2020

2020: The year of a worldwide pandemic, Covid-19. This is also the year I retired from public education after a full 31-year career of teaching. Here’s a shout-out to all the educators out there making the best of virtual teaching and distance learning. We appreciate you! Deanna sent me this image of a retro poster regarding the essential nature of farming. We are happy to produce nutritious organic food for our community!

BIODIVERSITY

In this time of social distancing, we have enjoyed our time on the farm, taking notice of the diversity of life all around us. It is a blessing to have this land and space to breath and work.

Bees

Bees are the most essential workers of all! Here is a picture of them pollinating the cherry tree. They were spotted on all crops at their time of flowering to aid in a bountiful 2020 harvest!

This little guy was enjoying some sweet grape juice and seemed to get stuck in the grape. Be careful!

Birds

Various birds are present on the farm throughout the year. These are pictures captured of a few that stopped and stayed out here for a little while. I would like to find time to really watch and learn what types of birds they are and how many different types pass through. There are many more than shown here. During the farming season, we are busy and don’t always have a camera handy to really show how abundant this land is with birds!

Chickens!

We started with a variety of chicks back in April, mainly chosen for the color of their eggs and their mild temperament. They have a nice coup in which to perch at night and plenty of room to run around. We don’t have pigs this year, so we planted a forage crop for the chickens and extended their space quite a bit. It is a good sized yard. They peck around in there and stay cool under the shade of the lilac bushes. We did end up with four roosters, though, out of about 18 chicks. Two were very dominant and bossy, scaring the older hens to hide and stay perched even during the day. We processed those two roosters for Thanksgiving. The hens are happy now and not afraid to run around!

Snakes

There are plenty of snakes out and about, especially when the weather gets warm. Mostly, we see gopher snakes, which is good because they keep the rodent population down. We have way too many squirrels out here, so we can use all the help we can get! Green racers are also common. The past few years we have had encounters with at least two rattlesnakes per year. Those are probably also good for keeping the rodents at bay, but their bite is poisonous, so we have to control the population of rattlesnakes.They are beautiful animals, though, and very polite, as they shake their rattle to warn you of their presence. They are not aggressive animals, but you would not want to stumble upon one and startle it. That is how you get bitten by a rattler!

Toads and Frogs

Toads are very well camouflaged in the soil and are often found in damp spots under the irrigation lines. The little bright green fellow is a frog who was found shading himself under the drip line as we were planting. It is good to see these critters out in the fields because they keep the insects in check.

Coyote

Coyotes are more often heard than seen. I happened to catch this one on camera as it was running through the field next door. I zoomed in real close, so the image may be a little fuzzy, but he looks like a healthy animal. Eat the squirrels and rabbits, OK? Just stay away from the chickens!!!

Here’s Cleo!

Cleo is the sole surviving cat of a litter born on the farm when we first arrived 18 years ago. She doesn’t go out much anymore, but she did her share of hunting in her early years!

Buster & Daisy!

Buster and Daisy are always ready to chase off any mischievous critters around the farm.

SOIL!

Healthy soil is the most vital element of a productive farm!

We begin with organic seed and start our crops in the greenhouse in March and April.

Tools!

Time has obviously passed to get us from transplants to thriving plants. We keep the weeds in check with some of our favorite tools. Fertilizing is done through the drip irrigation using this simple fertigation can.

Crops!

Transplanting to the fields and tending the young starts is intensive work and doesn’t allow for much time to take pictures. The pictures above were taken in late June or early July. Beginning in mid-July, we supplied Berryvale Grocery in Mt. Shasta with multiple varieties of squash, followed by cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, pears, and table grapes. Thank you for your support and help in moving the food to the community!

Mountain View Organics!

These pictures were most likely taken in July, when the plants were in growth mode and just about to flower and produce fruit.

Summer Squash!

Dependable and prolific, we never tire of our daily harvest of summer squash! We supplied Berryvale with fresh picked squash three times each week! Thanks!

Our purple potatoes were a hit at Hunter Orchards’ Pumpkin Patch. They moved a couple hundred pounds during the month of October! Thank you!!!

Retirement from teaching freed me up to process the bounty of our harvest! We canned LOADS of sweet corn! Skye got me into using a pressure canner rather than a water bath.

We found time to can multiple rounds of tomato sauce!!!

After blanching , peppers were frozen for later consumption.

Zucchini bread was packed and put in the freezer.

Parsley and basil were hung to dry and put in jars. Onions and potatoes were dehydrated and stored in canning jars for convenient use in cooking!

Seedless sweet table grapes of multiple variety loved by all! Fresh eaten, of course!

All in all, its been a productive year despite the pandemic. We even managed to paint both houses and complete some deferred maintenance around the farm!

Once again…THIS is why we’re called Mountain View Organics!!!

Ute

Biodiversity 2019

An abundant diversity of life exists out on the farm. We see and interact with so many different animals, plants, and insects on a regular basis. While so many have not been photographed, this is our document of the few examples we have managed to capture on film.



Daisy and Buster found this little guy in a small den at the corner of our house, protected by the pine cones and rocks that Buster carries back from his walks. We are not sure what type of animal he is, but are suspecting he may be a weasel, due to the rounded ears and shape of his snout and eyes. If he indeed is a weasel, then he is absolutely welcome out here to control the large squirrel population! These photos were taken in April of 2019.

Sean and I spotted quite a long gopher snake as we were working out in the fields. My music was playing from my phone, so I grabbed it and snapped a few pics. Although startling at first sight due to its similarity to a rattlesnake, which we have also seen out here, the first thing to look for is the rattle at the end of the tail. No rattle on this snake! The head is also shaped narrow and rounded compared to the rattler’s triangular shaped head. We like these guys around to control the rodent population!

Rabbits were quite prolific this year! It is challenging to keep them from eating the young transplants in the fields. Some mornings we would see half a dozen at a time hopping around through the fields and later find the tops of the young plants had been chewed. We have tried electric fencing around the fields, but that is expensive in both labor and costs. We tried putting wire cages over the plants and that allowed them to recover and produce.

Here is a picture of the tomatoes with wire cages going down the rows of crops. The cages protect the plants from critters and provide stem support as the plants grow and start to lean over. We also tried the cages on eggplant and peppers this year with success!

It is always a race to harvest these delightful tart cherries at their prime before the birds get them. We allow for the birdies to eat from the tops of the trees, while we harvest what we can from the lower branches.

The Royal Anne tree is old and large and always seems to promise loads of cherries. We share these with the birds and squirrels and whatever other critters might happen to find them tasty and nutritious!

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Meet “The Cat,” as we call this lovely unnamed creature who moved onto the farm for the 2019 farming season. The Cat is very obscure and tough to visually capture. These pics were taken with a Bushnell motion sensor camera placed at the side of Omi’s house. We were hearing critter sounds and wanted to know who was moving in. As depicted below, squirrels were the culprits and The Cat was a great champion at moving them out!

Next comes evidence of The Cat catching a squirrel for dinner…

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These birds were captured on film by the Bushnell Motion sensor camera. Each bird has a whole flock of friends and family that also live out on the farm.

Mr. Toad is quite camouflaged in the moist earth of the planting trenches beneath the shade of the drip line!

View from corner of summer squash field, with onions and potatoes in sight. Zucchini, zephyr, and yellow squash were among the varieties grown in 2019.

Sweet white and red onions were planted in the same field as the potatoes. Alliums keep pests away from the potato plants on which the pests love to nibble!

We grew Russets, Yukon Gold, and Purple Viking potatoes this year!

This egg was spotted as we were hoeing the young cucumber field. It is most likely an egg of the low flying sandpiper type birds that buzz around the fields all summer.

Views from both ends of the cumber fields as the plants were getting ready to produce.

We supplied Berryvale with both Lemon and Marketmore cucumbers!

A typical Berryvale order of summer squash and cucumbers 2-3 times per week!

A diversity of crops are grown on our farm! Here are a few pics of the peach tree!

Small lizards like this little guy are abundant all around the farm!

Our three apricot trees were quite prolific this season! We shared the harvest with the black birds that lived in and protected the trees as the fruit ripened. They swept down over anybody that walked near the trees, but we just established our presence and let them know that we were sharing!

We grow both golden and red delicious apples.

Marachal Foch wine grapes! Although we did not make wine from these grapes, the juice we pressed was phenomenal! We also harvested an abundance of seedless table grapes for Berryvale.

Skye built this juice press, which works for pressing juice from all fruit harvested on the farm.

Loads of grapes this year!!!

Bird nests in the grape vines, nicely shaded from the summer sun.

Winter squash harvest with sorghum field in background.

Daisy and Buster hunt squirrels and rabbits every chance they get! Cleo is now 17 years old and doesn’t leave the house much anymore, especially since The Cat is stalking around outside. She has done her duty of catching mice and squirrels in her younger years!

Once again, this is why we’re called Mountain View Organics!

July 2017

 

 

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Silver Queen Corn

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The wheel hoe is one of our most used tools

 

 

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Huckleberry Gold potato flowers with Mountain View Organics!

 

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Most impressive this season are the potato fields!!!  Hoping for yummy potatoes!

 

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Candy onions freshly weeded and standing tall

 

 

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Galia melons…everyone’s favorite!

 

 

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Cucs!

 

 

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Basil and Cucumbers

 

 

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Skyway tomatoes

 

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Marachol Foch grapes

 

 

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Pears!

See you all soon at the Mt. Shasta Farmers’ Market and at Berryvale!!!

 

New Season New Focus

 

We are experimenting with making hydrosols from ancient roses. Rosa Damascena,

Rosa Alba, and Rosa Centifolia are the oldest varieties of roses and contain therapeutic qualities and the quintessential rose fragrance that is “complex, fruity, and rich.”  We grow them organically and have lately been picking blossoms daily for steam distillation, which forms the lovely rosewater we use as a spritzer to calm and cool the skin.  Research is ongoing to find the best method of steam distilling and essential oil extraction.  These ancient rose varieties are absolutely the best for this purpose.

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The grapes are growing prolifically.

Small clusters of grapes can be seen in the first picture!

The bottom picture is what the apples look like today!  They are growing steadily and shaping up to be a good apple season! The previous two pictures were taken when the trees were in blossom earlier this spring.

Jeff has been busy hilling the potatoes!  We have three varieties this season:

Huckleberry Gold, AmaRosa Fingerling, and Yukon Gold!

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Almost finished laying straw mulch to tomatoes prior to setting cages over them.

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Zucchini, Zephyr, and Goldy summer squash!

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This small field of luscious bi-color corn was planted earlier than the silver queen and with distance separating the varieties to keep them true.

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View towards the West with potatoes in the foreground, Luscious bicolor corn in the center, and Jeff in the cucumber fields in front of the apple trees.

We look forward to seeing all our Mt. Shasta Farmers’ Market and

Berryvale friends soon!!

 

Fall 2016

 

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The annual Montague Balloon Fair at the end of September made for some colorful sights in the valley skies.

We hiked to Squaw Valley Meadow on September 30th, just before a storm came in and blanketed the mountain in white.  These are some of the final views of Mt. Shasta uncovered in 2016.  Sean is didging to the oncoming storm.

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Lots of canning and freezing in the fall…here we canned sour cherries that we had frozen earlier in the season and also Fall pears in a light syrup.

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The craziest looking potato ever!

Our Robot Coup has worked wonders for cutting and slicing!  We sliced potatoes and leeks, laid them out on cotton towels to absorb moisture, and packed them into quart bags for the freezer.  The potatoes were blanched to prevent browning.

Packed and ready for the freezer, serving size portions for potato leek soup!

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Packed freezer, full of good organic food…ready for winter!

Skye bakes the best bread!

Two wonderful Autumn meals:  Eggplant Parmesana cooked by Deanna                             Steak dinner featuring Arend’s grass-fed organic beef with Dave Edmundson’s sauerkraut

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Fascination over Skye’s chocolate kirsch apricot Sacher torte!

 

 

Food!

img_1273        Pickle prep

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Eggplant, tomato, lettuce, onion sandwich on Dutch crunch roll

Spiralized zucchini lasagna

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Grandma’s Eggplant parmesana

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Gretta’s tomato, sausage, pepper, basil, mushroom flan

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Curried Mtn. View potato, zucchini, onion, tomato, Hunter’s garlic, Charlie’s smoked tri tip, with rice

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Gretta and Charlie’s stuffed eggplant and zucchini

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Rockside Ranch Italian sausage, Mtn View onions, squash, tomatoes, with pasta and parmesan

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Omi’s Pflaumenkuchen with Marjie’s plums

Another Agriculture Essay by Sean

 

In recent years there has been a movement back to sustainable and organic management of crops and land. This has been forced due to the continued development of industrialized agriculture since the turn of the 20th century, which applies destructive methods of chemical agriculture and genetic engineering. This mismanagement has been pushed to the limit for the most convenient production and profit churned out over large scale monocultures degrading the natural environment and enslaving farm workers into an eternal cycle of debt. This calls for a need to return to organic practices to maintain an equilibrium with our surrounding environment through a healthy relationship with our plants, animals and fellow humans that can perpetuate for generations to come.

Navdanya, or the ‘nine seeds’ research program in India is a spearhead against industrialized agriculture and Monsanto’s attempt at dominance over Indian farmers. Their efforts have helped set up seed banks across India to make available alternatives to chemical and genetic agriculture as well as educate about sustainable farming practices. This has reduced poverty and saved the lives of many farmers who were taking their lives as a result of the lifetime debt incurred upon them by Monsanto. Navdanya offers a counter movement to Monsanto by offering organic fair trade seed domestically and internationally, combatting the encroachment of monoculture worldwide. “Navdanya has connected biodiversity conservation with organic production and have challenged the standardization, uniformity and lack of quality, promoted by the industrial food system,” (Shiva). This has allowed for the free flowing of organic farming and produce to return to India as a sustainable non-violent practice, re-fostering life and biodiversity to a land deprived by monoculture.

Biodiversity is essential because it allows for a reciprocal relationship between plants and soil to develop between seasons and generate ideal growing conditions for crops. As pointed out by Vandana Shiva in Monocultures of the Mind, “Sustainability and diversity are ecologically linked because diversity offers the multiplicity of interactions which can heal ecological disturbance to any part of the system. Nonsustainability and uniformity means that a disturbance to one part is translated into a disturbance to all other parts,” (Shiva).  When a natural environment is allowed to operate under the order of the universe, varieties of crops will be created, generating tolerance to disease and pests that threaten their vitality.

These same threats attack monocultures who use chemicals to combat hostilities rather than allowing the plants and their natural environments to defend themselves. If one of these chemicals were to fail, or the disease or pest develop resistance to the spray, a monoculture could be completely wiped out causing whole crops to fail. These problems are what plagued the Indian farmers who had fallen prey to Monsanto’s propagation of engineered seed. Many of their crops were failing due to widespread monocultures not having the ability to defend against the planet’s natural inhibitors. Here the need for biodiversity is crystal clear because without an ecosystem to support life on many levels, including soil microbes and beneficial insects the crops must be maintained through an artificial means.

To grow biodiverse crops, one must have access to a variety of seeds. This is the primary mission of Navdanya. “Through Navdanya, a national network for setting up community seed banks to protect indigenous seed diversity, we have tried to build an alternative to the engineering view of life.… we have tried to build an alternative to the paradigm of knowledge and life itself as private property,” (Shiva). It is a crime to place ownership over life, and that is exactly what Monsanto has done through patenting and gaining complete ownership over certain varieties of engineered seed which has extinguished many of the natural varieties that used to be available to farmers. By setting up seed banks across India Navdanya has saved the organic varieties and made them accessible to all for use in biodiverse agricultural communities. Navdanya has a mission to protect the many varieties of seed and life on Earth. Patenting seed prevents or stops the natural cycle of seed reproduction and adaptation to its current environmental conditions. Creating an environment of compatibility between people, the Earth, food and the seed from which our food is grown will foster harmony and sustainability into the future.

The act of farming is very rooted in the natural processes of the Earth. A connection is gained when the plant has access to its natural environment, is being fed the tea and the proper fertilizer that nourishes its growth and leads to the enhancement of the food it produces. In an interview for the Huffington Post, Shiva expresses that “The simple act of sowing a seed, saving a seed, planting a seed, harvesting a crop for a seed is bringing back this memory – this timeless memory of our oneness with the Earth and the creative universe,” (Gelder).

This is our call, our return to the organic and sustainable practices of our ancestors which we have lost through industrialization. It takes a mindful approach to the complexity of life and how it interworks to support itself through a constant process of self-organization, and use that intelligence to maintain a biodiverse and sustainable way of life into the future.

 

 Works Cited

Gelder, Sarah Van. “Vandana Shiva On Seed Saving and The Fight For Biodiversity.”

HuffingtonPost.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.

Shiva, Vandana. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston, MA: South End,

1997. Print.

Shiva, Vandana, Dr. “Organic Production.” Navdanya.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.

Shiva, Vandana. Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology.

London, UK: Zed, 1993. Print.