Lone Tree Farm
P.O. Box 425
Boonville, CA 95415
email: pibroch@mcn.org
or phone Gwendolen "Wendy" Rowe at (707) 376-8331

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|| 2000 News || 2001 News || 2002 News and 2003 News ||Current News and Calendar of Events||

Winter 2001 News From the Farm
In spite of a drought winter we have had enough water in the creek to run our micro hydro-electric system since early January. Last year the rains stopped early and we were only able to test the new system for about three weeks before the creek dried up. This winter Peter has been working hard modifying the system to make it more efficient; adding pipe, testing different 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 in 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 city--only better.
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 over. 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 spending 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 like a big teddy bear with his incredible 4 inch long winter coat. Ladybug is 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 Ladybug's.

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 their ranch where they raise cattle and Highland ponies. The Armann's ranch is beautiful, as are their ponies, and my visit with them was one of the highlights of my year. Luckily for me, accustomed to nothing more than an occaisional dusting of snow here in Northern California, they were having a warm spell 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 the usual spring market garden frenzy was upon us. A huge amount of preparation 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 schedule. Ladybug held out for 3 weeks beyond her due date to have her baby on April Fools Day. Morag's baby arrived after Farmers Markets started in May, and she timed hers to arrive on a Market morning when we had to finish harvest and rush off to the market. Luckily mom and baby were both doing fine and 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 specializes in equine reproduction and frozen semen. We hope soon to offer frozen semen from Quartz as we have had so much interest from mare owners both in the U.S. and abroad. We have chosen to pursue the frozen semen option, rather than chilled fresh semen both because it can be shipped internationally and because our Farmer's Market schedule leaves little time for anything 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 hadn't bagged up much at all, but one sunny June morning there was a wobbly little dun colored shadow at her side out in the pasture. Her name is Staffa (all 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 homes, 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 baking.....).I 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 living 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 service and 
repairs for the system is entirely uncooperative.The $5000 system seemed 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 
bit much! 
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 checking 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 once more!]


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 dried up extra early this year--in March-- and the rains did not start up again 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 long dry season there wasn't too much hot weather, so the spring kept on producing, 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 fully due to frost or rain) loved the prolonged dry spell, and we continued selling 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 grass 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 look 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 frost and hail in the past week, they're well prepared.

Staffa is headed off to her new home in Southern California. We will 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 classes; 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 people between March and October. Special thanks to Stephen and Monica who each spent several months here and were an enourmous help! We are grateful to all who visited and helped us this year, but must admit to feeling a little burnt out. Next year we hope to cut down on the stress a bit by accepting 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 stipend. 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.

|| 2000 News || 2001 News || 2002 News and 2003 News ||Current News and Calendar of Events||

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