Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ano ba yien!!!

Well it seems like running around in heavy boots during the spring has paid off. Now that it’s dry I wear my tennis shoes most of the time and I am able run from one side of the farm to the other without a problem and sprint a 100yards with the yearling sheep. This new ability saved the day on Saturday morning.
            I was herding the ewes, lambs, and cows out to pasture, when someone carelessly left the gate to the garden open about a foot and a half. So as I’m trotting behind the animals I notice the gate, so I yell the Zambian way of “Oooooooowwweeeeeeee!!! ANIMALS!!!”. The two people left in the garden just watched at first, with a ‘deer in the head light’ look. The cows started to take an interest in the open gate also and move toward it. My body moved without thinking, I was flying down the path and cut the cows off from the gate. Yelling tagalog exclamations and insults like a crazy lady. The other two apprentices managed to momentarily halt the sheep.
            “OPEN THAT GATE!” I yelled, pointing to the last gate that exits the garden.
            “But, but…” was the answer.
            “JUST DO IT!” I yelled from across the garden. The gate was opened the sheep joined the other animals and I continued to trot after them all. Luckily it happened so fast that only a few peas were chomped in passing and that there was minimal damage.
            Later that day we went to a John Jeavons tour and workshop in Willits. John Jeavons has a whole system and books on how to grow more vegetables and all your food in less space. His garden was beautiful and his methods accurate and I could see how they would be very useful in other countries like Africa, because of his minimal water-use methods. But we all agreed that Mr. Jeavons is a business man, not a farmer, a lot of his theories don’t add up, have loose-ends, or just aren’t realistic.
            It was good to see a comparison, and we all came home with more gratitude for the work we do here on Live Power.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cold Spell This Week

We had a lot of visitors this week. First we had a school group of 31 third graders from S.F. and camped out for four days. Then on Saturday we had a CSA member potluck. CSA members from Mendocino County and from S.F. came and camped out till Sunday. They toured, asked questions, helped with chores, and ate really good food!
            An Alaskan storm blew by this week, threatening frost. We had just transplanted the rest of the tomatoes, some eggplants and peppers. These are summer crops that will not survive a frost. So we franticly got to work creating these small temporary hoop houses for all these crops; ten beds of 90 feet each so about 900 feet of hoop houses. The wind was blowing hard icy gusts at us, picking the remay fabric out of our fingers and threatening to tear the sheets in half. We entered the kitchen later that evening cold, chapped, and worried. Would our warm weather loving plants live? Would they survive the night? But we had done all we could and we had done our best, now is the time to put trust in something Higher. For me my trust will always be in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He would answer our please, and reward our efforts. The next morning was bitter cold as we went out to check our heat loving crops. And there they stood snug in their little hoop houses. We were so relieved that they had survived! The storm has passed and the air is warm again, the garden is thriving. The hay is being cut and bailed, and things seem to be balancing out once more.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Time Flies When Your in the Sun!

Well my tan is officially on? I also spend more time awake then I do sleeping and 99% of these hours are in the sun. Our C.S.A. is in full swing now. We are supporting about 100 families in Mendocino and in San Francisco total and the number keeps climbing. Every Tuesday and Friday morning we are harvesting, cleaning, and boxing produce. I’m in charge of the pac-choy, which are getting so big now that I have to use a small cart to harvest them.
            We have now transplanted the tomatoes. We have planter corn, beans, cucumbers, and squash. There is one bed of squash and cucumbers that I started in the green house then transplanted into the garden to have a head start. So there is a whole bed in the garden that was planted by me!
            I’ve been barrowing Gabe’s bike lately to round up the animals! I was nervous the first time, I wasn’t sure I could maneuver the bike properly. It was amazing, how after two years of not riding a bike, that my body still remembered. Like a flashback into Peace Corps I was whizzing down the dirt paths! My body remembered how to twist and lean as I chased the cows and the seep down the path. Dust filled my grinning mouth; the sun beat on my shoulders and gleamed off everything, giving a golden lining. It seemed so familiar, so comforting, such a joyful moment.
            Today we had a lunar eclipse! We all drove up the mountain and had solar viewers and watched the moon pass over the sun in a glowing ring of fire.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

PVC Princess

Sorry I’m so far behind in my updates, but my weekends have been a little busy and crazy lately.
            The weather has improved. The sun is out and warming the plants. The mountains are just speckled with snow and in the valley bottom we bask in the brilliant sunlight and warmth. The lambs and calves are growing. The pea tendrils are stretching out and climbing up the trellises. We continue to plant, sow, weed, hoe, and cultivate.
            We had our first CSA harvest. It was successful, though many of the plants were still small. Everyone was so excited and thankful for these wonderful vegetables. Each of us apprentices were assigned a plant or two to harvest, wash, and divide for Covelo CSA members, Willits, and Ukiah. There was a lot of counting. But I enjoyed learning how to harvest veggies I’ve never harvested before.
            So since we have all these new and growing plants in the field, they need lots of water, which means irrigation! Because of the field rotations the irrigation has to be very portable. So we had to bring out a lot of PVC piping connect it, flush water through it, and find all the breaks or cracks and fix them. These pipes are pretty old so there were quite a few repairs to do. I learned quickly: cut, sand, primer, pvc-cement, press, twist, hold for 30sec, then move on to the next repair. I am a PVC-pipe pro!
            Some new local farmers came to have an irrigation tour. I said, if you want to really learn how it works, you need to help fix it first. There isn’t a better way to get to know the quick and dirty of how portable irrigation works.
            After inspecting over 2,340 feet of pvc pipe we have the garden irrigated! But it’s not over yet; we only have half the field yet to garden!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

“Working of the Land”

April 15,2012

This week started off okay, a little soggy, then it got a lot soggy, then the week ended with a spectacular workshop in the sparkling sunshine.

First we started off with a great sneezing task of mulching the garlic rows, then more hoeing. Funny thing hoeing, it’s a rather steady task as you watch the hoe move up-down, up-down, as your arms ache your mind slips into empty thoughts, or too many thoughts off in the distance and yet your arms still move up-down, up-down. Your breath quickens, though your mind is far your eyes are keen to finding all the unwanted grass clumps and your fingertips feel the slightest unwanted muddy dirt clod as though the hoe is an extension of your person. Still up-down, up-down. The aching passes into a kind of trance and before you know it the field bed is completed your task is done and you are waking as if from a dream.

After our hoeing task we started transplanting broccoli and cabbage. we had to beat the rain that was promised so we transplanted 11rows in just a few hours. We walked away with soar backs and blistered fingers, but we finished.

The next day we received the promised rain. we were able to squeeze in a transplanting of a bed of lettuce before it got too muddy, then we cut potato starts.

On Friday, us apprentices, took a journey to Grass Valley area for a BDANC quarterly meeting and workshop. (BDANC= Bio-Dynamic Association of Northern California) Where we met several other bio-dynamic (BD) farmers. We learned about something called ‘preparations’ which is a sort of food for your compost, or field soil. It’s a technique of using certain herbs to ‘heal’ or balance the soil or compost. This workshop was a fun weekend endevor, but I slipped into church right in time for the opening prayer!

I can’t wait to see what next week has to offer!

“It’s hot then it’s cold…”

“It’s hot then it’s cold…”

For April 8, 2012-04-15

So either the hay bails are getting Fighter or I’m getting stronger cuz they just don’t seem as difficult to lift anymore…

The weather has been weird. One day it will be bitter cold, the next a cozy warm, then it will hail and blast of blistering cold wind will come through, then it will drizzle then warm up again to the point where I was walking around shoeless. don’t know what to wear some days.

The days here are starting to meld together into a blur of feeling, herding, mucking, racking, hoeing, weeding, eating, wheel-barrowing, milking, and somewhere in there is sleeping. We’ve sowed bell peppers, eggplant, peas, tomatoes, carrots, choy, and lettuce. Some were sown in seedling flats for the green house, some straight into the field.

We hope that each little seed turns to a plant, and that each plant will give fruit (or root) that can be given to our supporting families as food!

… Community Supported Agriculture (farm) …

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rain, rain go away!

Rain, rain, go away!

So this week started off good, we had some sunshine so we sowed peas, tomatoes, parsnips, beets, and chard. Our fourth apprentice arrived as well, so now we are two girls and two boys (Sarah and I, Gabe and Josh). But then it started to rain. It rained for five days straight! I had to start doing evening chores, so I lift bails of hay, fill feeders the drive the animals group by group to the barn. So I often am trotting in mud after the animals.

Most of this week we dug a ditch, fixed seed flats, fixed sieves, wheeled barrows, cleaned out the out-house, built compost, fixed pvc irrigation pipes and lots of organizing of this and that.

Friday we sheared four and a half sheep by hand! We wrestled them down, used the hand-shears to clip down the middle (the belly) then slowly clip around to the back then to the front, it was great! One sheep was left as a half because it got dark on us.

On Saturday we studied more about bio-dynamics and the cycles of seasons and plants. It was great to have a nice discussion about it and study. I hate school but I love the farm and studying this work.

This week was a low-key week all in all not much going on because of the rain. I was wet and cold most of the week, then a church member friend here let me use her washer and dryer! So thankfully at the end of a wet, muddy week all my clothes are now clean, dry, and fresh!

Cheers to the invention of dryers!