EARLY 2015 Season

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2015 marks our second season living on the farm and our 13th season farming this land!  It is nice to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn to check the crops, turn on the water, and plan for the day’s work, sipping a nice strong cup of coffee!  The crops are growing well, the weeds are under control as never before, and the squash is starting to produce.  You can find our zucchini, gold bar, and zephyr squash at Berryvale currently.  We look forward to joining the Mt. Shasta Farmers’ Market in the next few weeks, once the onions bulb up and the cucumbers start producing!

A nice fresh layer of organic aged bark from Shasta Forest Products in Montague helps retain moisture and keeps the top of the soil from crusting over.  It also allows room for the onions to bulb up under the compost, protected from the scorching heat and blinding sun.  This view is a diagonal from the bottom field up towards the top back corner.

What is the secret to a successful farm?  NO FEAR OF HARD LABOR!!!  That’s it!  We spend most of our time hoeing and weeding, allowing space for the plants to establish themselves.  These pictures show the fruits of our labors thus far…we have had many challenges along the way.  The warm winter allowed for more pests than ever before.  Early on, we fought flea beetles and cutworms.  Currently, we are battling rabbits…THEY ARE NOT CUTE!!!  Our melon fields are growing beautifully, but have nightly visitations by rabbits, who are eating the Halona melons as soon as they are about the size of a baseball…not even ripe!  We tried pepper and garlic spray around the perimeter of the field to deter them, set traps, and night vision cameras.  Still, we see new bites in our melons each morning.  Skye will be going on patrol before dawn to catch them in the act and shoot them…yes, shoot them before they take out our entire melon crop…we still have faith that the gnawed up melon vegetation can recover without these persistent critters present.

The first melons to produce are the Halonas.  They are an orange fleshed sweet muskmelon.  What is pictured here are the Galia melons, which are next to start production.  Looking good at present…still more reason to get those rascally rabbits out of our fields! Galia melons are green fleshed, sweet with an almost tropical flavor!

We planted two corn varieties this season.  An early yellow sweet corn, which can be seen tassling in the background.  In the foreground, we have Silver Queen, which is a later white sweet variety.  Once the corn starts producing, we should be bringing it to market for a nice strong consistent run!

You can spot the yellow squash blossoms throughout this prolific field of summer squash.  Identification of zucchini plants versus gold bar and zephyr (both yellow squash) can be noticed by the coloring of the leaves.  The green zucchini has a darker green color, with a mottling of color on the surface, where the yellow squashes have a solid green color.

A view from the top of the property, across the winter squash and down towards the corn fields…it is amazing how much these plants have grown in the last few weeks!  When they first got planted and took time establishing themselves, it seems they would never grow…then suddenly…WOW!!!  Good qualities for farmers to have are patience and imagination….

View of Mount Shasta from ground level framed by sweet Walla Walla onions…

Thank you flowers and thank you bees!  You are most important!


Going Back in Time…

When the end of the school year comes around and our focus shifts to the farm, there is not time for much else.  This photo is taken from the lower corner of the cucumber field up towards the back top corner of winter squash.  Photos are taken, but we can’t seem to get to the computer.  With these excruciatingly high temperatures, well above 100F, we are driven indoors to the cool comfort of our fans and air conditioner to take time to reflect on our work and share our experiences with others.  The fields look good, but it’s such a sensitive time, full of wonder and hope….this was just 3-4 weeks ago….

Baby tomato plants at the beginning of June!

Early fields and young grapes…

This is what the fields looked like after a late May rain…water puddling in the pathways.

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Corn transplants are started in tree containers for long straight roots.

IMG_2790Mount Shasta in May.

IMG_2801Piggies at end of May…have grown since!

?????????????Petr refurbished this ’64 Chevy flatbed as his senior project.  We hope to take it to our first market soon!!! This shot was in-progress.

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Preparing flatbed for new boards.

20150411_185057Czech Republic man on an American John Deere!

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This is why we’re called Mountain View Organics!!!

Water

Water

by Wendell Berry

I was born in a drouth year. That summer

my mother waited in the house, enclosed

in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,

for the men to come back in the evenings,

bringing water from a distant spring.

veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.

And all my life I have dreaded the return

of that year, sure that it still is

somewhere, like a dead enemys soul.

Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,

and I am the faithful husband of the rain,

I love the water of wells and springs

and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.

I am a dry man whose thirst is praise

of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.

My sweetness is to wake in the night

after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.

20150409_091400After 12 years of farming on this beautiful piece of earth, our pump gave out and we’re having a new variable speed system installed.  The good news is that we hit water at 80 feet and the well is 200 feet deep!  A deeper appreciation of water is definitely gained…

20150321_1502171/2 Swaibian hall 1/4 Tamworth and 1/4 guinea hog

2015 pigs

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Tomato Processing

20141018_163145Following the final big tomato harvest, we prepare a large batch of spaghetti sauce and salsa! First ingredient is tomatoes, of course!

20141018_163319Loads of fresh crisp red onions!

20141019_110209Rinse tomatoes to prepare for hot water bath

20141019_131233Boil tomatoes for approximately five minutes

20141019_133320Next, immediately drop tomatoes into ice water, remove peel, and cut away unwanted portions

20141019_145953Puree tomatoes in food processor and pour into stainless steel bowls

20141019_154516Wash, chop, and add onions, garlic, peppers, parsley, etc… depending on sauce

20141019_174035Have plenty of bowls, cooking pots, and processing bath ready!

20141018_192742Sterilize glass jars in boiling water for at least 15-30 minutes, while sauce is cooking

20141019_173839Boil sauce until desired thickness is reached, evaporating much of the liquid

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The processing pot we use holds nine quarts

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Be prepared with clean/sterile lids and rings! Pour sauce into hot glass jars, using ladle and funnel. Wipe edge of glass with damp hot wet cloth before placing lid on top of jar.  Place back in water bath and boil heavily for at least 30 minutes.  Remove from pot and let cool.  Lids will seal themselves.

20141019_194004Two batches of tomato sauce…spaghetti sauce and salsa!!!

We prepared a total of 18 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 18 quarts of tomatillo salsa, and 12 quarts of red tomato salsa!!!

Comparison/Contrast

Sean Micklos

Organic vs. Industrial Farming

            “A healthy farm culture can be based only upon familiarity and can grow only among a people soundly established upon the land; it nourishes and safeguards human intelligence of the earth that no amount of technology can satisfactorily replace…” (Wendell Berry)

Biodiversity provides clean, consistent air and water, protection from floods and storms, a sustainable climate, and pollination of food crops. Agriculture is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. Corn is one of the most widely grown crops in the United States. It covers about 80 million acres and counts for more than twenty percent of crops grown in the US. Most of that corn is grown in an industrialized monoculture technique, which covers vast expanses of the same variety of corn. Organic corn grown with respect to biodiversity accounts for only a minute fraction of that acreage yet contains more nutritional value and is grown in a more sustainable manner than industrialized corn. Organically produced crops sustain the earth and provide healthier food for human beings than their industrialized counterparts.

Industrial monoculture covers vast expanses of land with a single crop. Being that the same nutrients are extracted from the soil, and the same crop is grown on that same plot the following season, the topsoil becomes depleted of the necessary nutrients for the crop being grown. Organically produced crops do not deplete the soil of beneficial nutrients for their growth because crops are rotated between different plots depending on the nutrients they require. This allows for the soil to regenerate between plantings of a similar crop. The establishment of cover crops or green manure between seasons replenishes the soil with organic matter and vitality. This also aids in the control of soil erosion. Industrial monoculture, on the other hand, often leaves the land barren between seasons, allowing the soil to erode through wind and other weather factors.

Industrialized monoculture applies synthetic pesticides and herbicides to control insects and weeds that compete with the survival of the crop. This destroys the biodiversity of the natural order because all insects and all vegetation are being eradicated to produce a single variety of plant. Weeds and insects are controlled without the use of synthesized chemicals when growing crops organically. Mulches, cover crops, and manual removal of weeds require more physical effort to produce a more sustainable and healthier organic product. This approach is unobtrusive in its acceptance of other species in that it provides for biodiversity to thrive. The toxic concoctions that indiscriminately pollute the industrial fields as well as the environment also leave a residue in the food found on supermarket shelves. Organic produce contains nutrients that are unpolluted by the products used to grow them.

How is life to continue when single varieties of a crop are grown, thus eradicating all other varieties of that crop, along with any competing species? The natural order is compromised by mankind’s encroachment upon the land for short-term profit-motivated endeavors that would not exist if not for government subsidies. To control the loss of biodiversity as a species is a very powerful position for mankind to be in. To create a complete monoculture is like putting all our eggs in one basket. If anything were to contaminate the survival of the only variety available, it would result in the extinction of that variety. If we continue along this path of synthetic chemical monoculture, the domino effect of losing biodiversity will inevitably lead to our demise. Why did organic agriculture become an “alternative”? Organic was simply the way crops were grown prior to the surplus of chemicals following WWII. This set us on an unsustainable course in the name of “progress” to initiate the industrial takeover of agriculture. It has been unrighteously subsidized to maintain a short-term profit-driven system rather than protecting the sustainability of life on the planet and the production of nutritious organic food.