Winter 2001 News From the Farm
In spite of a drought winter we have had enough water in the creek to
our micro hydro-electric system since early January. Last year the
stopped early and we were only able to test the new system for about
weeks before the creek dried up. This winter Peter has been working
modifying the system to make it more efficient; adding pipe, testing
nozzles, etc. After a heavy rain the hydro system now produces 15 amps
24 hours per day-that's as much power as all our solar panels produce
full sun! In the evening we are able to have the computer on as well as
four or five lights. What a luxury! Almost like living in the
It's quite ironic really, that we suddenly have more elctricity than
we know what to do with (and it's free!) at a time when the rest of the
state is experiencing power shortages and price increases.
I'm still hoping we'll have a good bit more rain before the winter is
The pastures aren't doing too well with the lack of rain, and I haven't
been able to get as much re-seeding done as I'd like because it's been
so dry. But one advantage of a drier than normal winter has been
more time working with the horses. Ceilidh and Skye have both continued
their training and are starting over fences.
Quartz is enjoying life out in the pasture with his mares. He looks
a big teddy bear with his incredible 4 inch long winter coat. Ladybug
starting to look very large indeed-that's a BIG baby in there! Morag is
not showing much yet, but then her due date is a month and a half after
Spring 2001 News From the Farm
In early February I was able to get away from the farm for a couple of
weeks (thanks to Peter who stayed home and took care of the chores)and
drive up to British Colombia. There I visited Ann and Ernie Armann on
ranch where they raise cattle and Highland ponies. The Armann's ranch
beautiful, as are their ponies, and my visit with them was one of the
of my year. Luckily for me, accustomed to nothing more than an
dusting of snow here in Northern California, they were having a warm
and it only got down to 10 below zero while I was there!
In March we said a fond farewell to Ceilidh, the little Welsh mare, as
she went to her new home down in Central California.
Our first WWOOfer for the year, Nici, arrived just in time to help as
usual spring market garden frenzy was upon us. A huge amount of
is involved in having plants and produce ready to sell when the markets
open in May.
The arrival of foals were welcome interruptions in the busy
Ladybug held out for 3 weeks beyond her due date to have her baby on
Fools Day. Morag's baby arrived after Farmers Markets started in May,
she timed hers to arrive on a Market morning when we had to finish
and rush off to the market. Luckily mom and baby were both doing fine
we were still able to get to the market on time.
Summer 2001 News From the Farm
June saw Quartz off to visit Dr. Paul Mennick at Pacific International
Genetics near Redding (about a 4 hour drive from here). Dr. Mennick
in equine reproduction and frozen semen. We hope soon to offer frozen
from Quartz as we have had so much interest from mare owners both in
U.S. and abroad. We have chosen to pursue the frozen semen option,
than chilled fresh semen both because it can be shipped internationally
and because our Farmer's Market schedule leaves little time for
else, especially not running around trying to get chilled semen to the
airport on short notice.
Skye produced a gorgeous filly quite suddenly several days early. She
bagged up much at all, but one sunny June morning there was a wobbly
dun colored shadow at her side out in the pasture. Her name is Staffa
our foals are named for Hebridean islands) and she is simply adorable!
All the babies are cute, and we will miss them when they go to new
but we will certainly be tempted to keep this one.
As if Farmers Markets and foals weren't enough to keep us busy, I have
been renting a
commercial kitchen so that I can turn our excess fruit (berries at
present) into pies and
preserves to sell at the Markets. (Unfortunately it is illegal to sell
any food processed in
a home kitchen, so in order to sell pies or jams not only are there
myriad health department
forms and regulations to slog through, I must pack all the pots and
pans and ingredients up in
the van, and drive all the way to town to do the cooking and
think I may have
finally reached the overload point and am trying to cut back a bit.
This year with the drought winter we are shorter than ever on water. So
far we are squeaking
by with the garden and I'm hoping that I've got the crops planned out
in such a way that we'll
be able to continue the markets all the way through the season. All
the crops in the upper
garden (which Ladybug did a super job plowing for us) are mulched and
on drip irrigation
to save water.
We are constantly reminded to appreciate our few luxuries of modern
by the fact that
they are always breaking. This time it is our radio phone system. We
live several miles
away from the nearest phone lines and so there is no possibility of
having a real phone. For
the past 5 years we have had an Optaphone radio phone system which
was very expensive,
but wonderful while it worked. It allowed us to make calls just like
an ordinary phone and
connect to the internet (at a very slow speed, but still, having email
made us feel like we'd
really made a quantum leap into the high-tech age!). But the radio
phone died a sudden
unexplained death in May, and the company which promised to provide
repairs for the system is entirely uncooperative.The $5000 system
like a reasonable
long term investment for an area that probably will never have access
to real phone service.
But now that it is apparently useless after only 5 years-$1000 a year
(plus phone bills) seems a
So now we have a cell phone instead, which is O.K. for phone calls
but no more internet access. We try to keep up with our email by
it in town a few times per week, but
updating the website has been problematic. [December 2001: We are happy
to report that the
Optaphone company finally resolved their problems! Six months without
a phone was a bit
frustrating, but our optaphone has now been repaired and is working
beautifully. It's a great relief
to have internet access and be able to make long distance phone calls
Fall 2001 News From the Farm
We have had a long and busy growing season this year. Our water supply
held out amazingly well in spite of the extended dry season. Things
up extra early this year--in March-- and the rains did not start up
until mid November. Our only source of water is a small spring, and the
flow varies greatly based on the weather. This year in spite of the
dry season there wasn't too much hot weather, so the spring kept on
not a lot of water, but just enough to keep the garden going.
We continued selling produce at the Boonville Farmer's market through
the end of September, and
even had lots to sell at the final Mendocino market in late October.
Our grapes and figs (late varieties which often aren't able to ripen
due to frost or rain) loved the prolonged dry spell, and we continued
those crops well into November.
The pastures weren't so appreciative of the dry weather. We had to
supplement the horses with hay all summer as there just wasn't much
out there. Normally the pastures here provide adequate grazing for the
horses for about 6 months of the year.
The foals are all weaned now, and just keep getting cuter. They all
like little teddy bears in the 3 inch winter coats they inherited from
their dad. Now that the winter weather has finally settled in with
and hail in the past week, they're well prepared.
Staffa is headed off to her new home in Southern California.
miss her here, but her new family will give her lots of love and care.
September was a busy month with preparations for the county fair. Skye
was entered in the horse show--her first--and placed in all her
2 seconds, third and fifth. What a good girl!
Our produce exhibits did us proud as well, bringing home 8 first place
ribbons, 7 seconds, and 5 thirds.
We had an abundance of WWOOF help this season, with a total of 21
between March and October. Special thanks to Stephen and Monica who
spent several months here and were an enourmous help! We are grateful
all who visited and helped us this year, but must admit to feeling a
burnt out. Next year we hope to cut down on the stress a bit by
only a few longer term helpers, rather than many short term helpers.
We are also looking for a full-season apprentice who would like to
learn how to manage a market garden operation. This position will start
in January or February 2002 and will include room and board and a
This would be an excellent opportunity for someone who is interested in
a market garden or farm career, but isn't ready to invest in their own
land and equipment.