Posts Tagged ‘Potter Valley’

veg share June

In Your Share This Week
  • Baby Carrots
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Swiss Chard
  • Scotch Kale
  • Turnips
  • Radishes

The broccoli is just starting to flower, so there isn’t quite enough for every pick-up site to receive broccoli this week. Next week, we’ll switch it around so everyone gets their fair share. The carrots are starting to size up. Little carrots like these are good for snacking or roasting whole. Try them roasted with Morrocan spices. This is the last week for radishes as it is way too hot for them now, and they get woody.

The broccoli is probably best cooked, like lightly steamed. With this past weekend’s heat, the sulfur content in the broccoli plant most likely increased, giving it a spicy bite when eaten raw. We are keeping the broccoli well-watered in this heat wave so that the turgor pressure of the plant cells can counterbalance that sulfur. Broccoli prefers cool weather.

Expect more cooking greens this coming week, as well as some lettuce. We have been experimenting with Swiss Chard. For lunch, we used a raw chard leaf to wrap a slice of leftover meatloaf (with mayonnaise of course) for a meatloaf-chard taco/wrap thing. That was yummy. We also like torn up chard in a quick quesadilla. Greens like these are so versatile, it’s easy to get their nutrition into your meals.

We hope you picked up uour Veggie Tip Sheets on Swish Chard and Beets this week!

For an in-your-face (note: not for children!) blog on healthy eats, check out Thug Kitchen and how Swiss chard compares to Swiss cheese.

Also, Swiss chard is a great substitute for spinach, which did not germinate very well this spring.

Field Notes

Along with keeping crops irrigated in the heat and continuing with transplanting, weed management, etc., our hay crop is keeping us occupied. We just got one of our main hay fields cut and baled in Potter Valley, and it has been quite an ordeal so far. Just like vegetables, quality hay has a timeframe in which it needs to be harvested and taken off the field. Currently, we don’t own any of our own hay-making equipment, and we don’t have the time to do it ourselves, so we prefer to outsource that job. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many folks in our valley who actually cut and bale hay anymore, so finding someone to do the job has been tricky.

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

conveyor 2

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Farming is like dancing – there are slow dances and fast jigs and every pace in between. We’re at another hurried hustle this time of year. Summer crops like tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are giving bloated harvests that call for routine attention.

Making tomato sauce with black plum tomatoes.

Yet under the guise of bounty, nature is slowly inching toward the quieter time of the year – fall and eventually winter – when crops slow down and the land lays still. So we are simultaneously prepping the ground and planting cool weather crops (those biennials like broccoli, lettuce and carrots) and preserving summer’s warm wealth in curing, pickling, making sauce and making sauerkraut.

Romanze potatoes that supplemented Live Power Community Farm CSA shares a few weeks ago.

With the higher food output this year, we’re also striving to consistently provide for markets we haven’t worked with regularly in the past, like Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op and Ukiah Brewing Company and Restaurant. We’re also finding that the markets and nearby restaurants can’t absorb all that we are producing, and CSAs are not in high demand here, so much of our food is shipping to the Bay Area. Hopefully, we are serving our community not just with our food but by bringing outside revenue in during these challenging economic times.

The pick-up truck loaded with an evening harvest of Riverside onions and Russian Banana fingerling potatoes.

As busy as we have been expanding farm production this year, we haven’t had much time to write about the process here. But, we’ve been striving to document with photos the daily work we do to grow as much nutritious, flavorful food as possible. Part of the process has been spending money. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. This season alone, we’ve acquired many tools to help us grow more food so it’s more affordable to buy and so that we don’t strain our bodies:

  • three-bottom plow
  • flail mower
  • Farmall 100 cultivating tractor
  • toolbar & flex planters
  • 5.5 HP water pump
  • hog panels
  • poultry netting
  • 30′ x 70′ high tunnel
  • sunblocker shade structure

One of the flex planters on a toolbar we purchased in the Delta.

The shopping list goes on, and that’s only major capital investments. Fortunately, we don’t always have to buy things outright. Other farmers are lending us equipment or letting us make payments. A community of growers is so essential particularly when when you start out with nothing.

Berkshire pigs enjoying cucumbers

We’re also raising another round of pigs that will be ready in time for the holidays. Not only is pork really tasty, but our pigs will happily eat vegetable culls or whatever does not sell at the farmers market. Heritage Berkshire pork is delicious, so we’re definitely raising those pigs again!

The sheep grazing on irrigate pasture in Potter Valley.

We also bought a few more ewes and lambs to increase our sheep flock. Hopefully by the end of this season, we’ll have about 100 ewes. Our new Shropshire ram, Macho, should be getting familiar with the ladies now…

So, we continue to refine our farming system – doing trials of different crops to see what we can grow well, trying new feed rations and growing better hay and pasture for cost-effective yet delicious meat, fine-tuning all the mechanical processes, and improving relationships with all our customers. We’re very excited to be growing a lot more food this year. It’s a challenge, but the hard work is rewarding when we are able to partner with nature and people to nourish ourselves and our community.

About 1/3 of the onions

The durum wheat should be harvested soon.

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We have not posted news in a while, but it is no wonder – we are so very busy! And this week is no exception. As all the vineyards in Mendo are bustling with harvest, we have been assisting with the grape harvest at Golden Vineyards. It’s always exciting to collaborate with the Goldens, and although we’re doing a lot, we enjoy taking part in the grape harvest madness that has taken over the region. In some ways, the success of our farm depends on the success of the agriculture around us.

In terms of our own harvest, we have been doing a lot of it. Since September, we have been supplying the five NCO Head Start centers in Ukiah with weekly CSA produce shares. Some of the summer’s bounty have been melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, sweet peppers, chard, and more. Periodically, we have supplemented the Live Power CSA produce shares with our vegetables as well.

Since mid-August, we have been supplying produce to the bar and restaurant, Bar Agricole. This week, we are sending some lamb their way. It required us driving down to Occidental and back on a Sunday night to drop off the lamb for processing, but that is what we have to do as there is no place for us to do that in Mendo…

Speaking of lamb, our sheep still reside at 3WG in Potter Valley. They have been very happy there thus far, and we’re still putting in time and labor to rehabilitate a couple of the fields there. Growing hay and pasture is still somewhat new for us, so we are going to try growing a specific mix in one field and see how it compares with the other fields. There is still some tractor work to be done so that the irrigation water flows across the fields correctly. Many of the ewes are bagging up (their udders are becoming full of milk) meaning we will have more lambs soon. If you are interested in buying our lamb for your freezer, let us know. We may have some available right now.

Also, we are in the home stretch of the meat chicken CSA. This Saturday, October 23, we will have the 5th batch of chicken shares available for pick-up at the Ukiah Farmers Market. We also plan to have extras for market sale as well.

Earlier this week, we also got together with Doug from the Mendocino Grain Project to get some of our grain cleaned. Some grain we will be reseeding and some wheat will go toward the grain CSA.

This week, we have also been harvesting and curing the winter squash for the Winter CSA. So far, we’ve harvested a couple varieties of acorn, lots of spaghetti, and delicata. The butternut, kabocha, and other plantings are still maturing.

One truckload of many!

You may not have heard, but we finally got a 4-wheel tractor in August. Fall planting has been happening much faster with the large disk and shovels for bed-shaping!

With it being autumn now, we are following the weather forecast closely; we must plan for the first substantial rain. While we are doing all this harvesting, fall is when we plant our hay/pasture and grain. This year, we will be growing barley at the south Ukiah property.

Perhaps when the days are super short and we’re inside more, we will have more blog posts for you 🙂

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Let us first say that we are happy to be farming irrigated pasture in Potter Valley.

hi, we are happy farmers

The sheep seem very content as well.

'crunch chew nom nom'

Today was the third time we have moved the sheep around at 3WG Ranch. There are basically three fields we are leasing for pasture, one of which is divided into two areas. Today, we moved the sheep into the largest area which never got cut for hay this spring. We will soon actually separate the lambs that we want to gain more weight and put them into a different field which we mowed and irrigated earlier in August.

This field is greening up and will be ready for the lambs. The sheep were here a while ago before we mowed, baled the hay, and irrigated the field.

This is all known as ‘rotational grazing’!

Then there is another field which we hope to use in the future, but we are having to rehabilitate it to a good pasture. Right now, we are discing it so we can seed it.

For now, the sheep are all happy together.

who wouldn't be happy with this view and fresh summer air?

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The past couple days, we have been out in Potter Valley planting crops, weeding, cultivating, irrigating, and really getting into the ground there.

At the Hale Ranch at Mid Mountain and East Road, we’re growing winter squash for the Winter CSA, melons and watermelons, sweet corn, and dry beans.

Here you can see the winter squash that Adam cultivated between rows with the two-wheel tractor, and Paula hoed around in-row. Afterward, we watered them and in one day, we noticed a lot of growth.

We are still planting a lot of winter squash, including these Waltham butternut seedlings.

Tomorrow morning, Keith at Lover’s Lane Farm will be bringing some bees over to help our melons get pollinated and increase the chances of good production.

Over at 3WG Ranch, we had a very challenging past couple weeks. Basically, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get the hay out of the pasture in time for us to start irrigating and get our sheep over there. Right now, the sheep do not have anything green to eat at Heart Arrow Ranch, and buying food for them is expensive and unsustainable. The long story short, we have been able to get hay baled or in the process of getting baled, and we’ve started to irrigate the pasture. The canal system in Potter Valley is quite impressive, and we’re having fun with the flood irrigation (as well as our dogs, especially on these hot days).

Ziggy standing in the field where we need to move the bales. At one time, the landlord(s) grow melons here, and we might do the same in the future.

One of the "red caps" where water just flows out when you open it.

Canal water is flowing into the big pipe that irrigates parcels at 3WG Ranch.

Moving hay bales

Yesterday evening and today, we have been picking up hay bales out of one parcel by hand and into a dump trailer as the neighbor did not have time to give us a lesson on using the hay bale wagon. (If you did not know, there is a specific vehicle/machine for picking up and moving hay out of a field. You can see a few if you drive around Potter Valley.) We want to irrigate that parcel soon, as we are irrigating the field next to it. And the sheep want to come out here soon!

Irrigating and cropping in Potter Valley is vastly different from farming on the hill at Heart Arrow Ranch because (1) irrigating is less expensive, and (2) its is FLAT which means more mechanized cropping.

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How much does it really cost to farm? Today, I was catching up on bookkeeping and wanted to see how much we have already expensed on the Hale Ranch – the 4-acre property (or 3.5 acres plantable) we’re leasing in Potter Valley. This is what I came up with:

Fixed Costs

  • Rent: $650.00
  • Soil Test: $78.00

Variable Costs

  • Seed: $838.70
  • Compost: $1,279.60
  • Fish emulsion (OG fertilizer): $275.00
  • Hired tractor work: $820.00
  • Rental of Compost Spreader: $150.00
  • Rental of Fertilizer Sprayer: $40.00

So, that’s $4,131.30, and we haven’t even started planting! But, we are still within our budget of $5,000 – yay!!!

Once the rain stops, we’ll have the neighbor do another discing, and we should be really getting into the ground with our corn, beans, and squash 🙂 All the cucurbits (winter squash and melons) are cozy in the greenhouse waiting for transplanting. We’ll be direct-seeding the corn and beans.

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So far, it has been good leasing from the Hales. We hope to get a soil test result soon from Alpha Labs in Ukiah, but we have gone ahead with a fertility plan. This past Thursday, we stirred and sprayed BD 500 and prepped the compost we bought from Cold Creek down the road.

Since we do not have a tractor, we are hiring the neighbor to do the big tractor work. We looked into renting a tractor ourselves, but we do not have the insurance required. By outsourcing, we can stay within our budget. First, we had him mow down the cover crop. After we purchased compost and rented a spreader from Cold Creek, we had him spread it.We purchased fish emulsion and rented a fertilizer sprayer from the Farm Supply in Ukiah and are having the neighbor spray that as well. It’s been really efficient outsourcing the tractor work, and he’s a really nice guy who seems to know what he’s doing. I think our landlord is pleased with the activity going on.

If we haven’t mentioned it before, we’re very excited to be cropping here because the water is very affordable and it’s FLAT (as opposed to the hills at Heart Arrow).

The neighbor takes a break from discing to chat with our landlord and Adam.

inside the compost spreader we rented

one of the fields at the Hale Ranch

The soil in the first section of the field looks really good.

the second section, also with overhead sprinklers

the third and largest section

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