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We had an amazing and fun week filled with all the children from the Lincoln School of Science & Technology! The entire school visited the farm over the course of 3 days.

The kids had an opportunity to explore the farm and learn all sorts of things. In this photo they have just discovered that Chocolate Flower smells like hot chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven!

Every grade level was here during the week. They had a treasure hunt in the greenhouse looking for 4 different plants – one that smelled like chewing gum, one that smelled like pizza, another that smelled like a grandma’s perfume, and finally one that smelled like a lemon lollipop. There was a lot of rubbing and smelling plants in the greenhouse as they hunted for the right plants to match the right aromas.

Everyone had a picnic in the fruit garden, which is where Hannah and Gretel the ducks live near the pond. I was amazed that the ducks got out of the pond water and waddled around socializing with the kids and the adults while they were having their picnic.

Last week, we had a visit from our friends at Ft. Collins Nursery. They came down to spend the day talking shop. We spent a lot of time talking about organic integrated pest management and also shared insights of native plant propagation. We all enjoyed it very much and came away from the day feeling inspired and joyful, celebrating the company of good friends.

This weekend, Chris is visiting his family in Lincoln, Nebraska. Of course, the visit includes a Husker college football game as part of the deal, but the main things that make the visits special is sharing time with all the family!

While Chris is on this trip, I’m the farm caretaker. Three weeks ago it was his turn to be the farm caretaker while I had a visit with M’lissa and Luke in Montana. We’re still too much in the farm growing season for us to both get away together, so one of us must stay home to do the chores.

Chris and I also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this week. He is absolutely the man of my heart and every day I am in gratitude that I get to share my life with him!

So, there has been a lot going on recently. This next week promises to be a busy one too, although not quite as many people around.

It’s looking a lot like Autumn is in full swing here too, with fall color starting to show up in all the gardens and tree plantings. Oh how I love this time of the year!!

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This week has largely been about preparing for the Lincoln School of Science and Technology to visit the farm next week. We have been planting, preparing supplies, getting the farm tidy and all the things that go into getting ready to host 300 elementary school children and their teachers and other staff over three days next week.

One of the most fun things that happened this week as we get ready for the kids to visit, is that the Farm Ambassadors have arrived. They are ready and eager to interact with the kids.

The scarewoman above is the flowerpot scarecrow and she says “I’m basket in the sun” ready to greet children.

This is the gathering scarecrow, who has a broom handy to sweep pine cones into a basket. This scarecrow’s message is “Is there broom for another pine cone?”

Of course one of the Farm Ambassadors is a jestor scarecrow and he is all about having fun! His message is ‘I encourage clowning around!” He really wants the kids to have a grand time while they are here.

The driveway lady scarecrow, you might notice, has a carrot nose. She is wondering “Do you smell carrots?”

These two are the front porch scarecrow couple and they have been here since last Autumn, so they are the “Old Timers”.

All this silliness is great for making us laugh and giggle and really…that’s how life should be. Right?!

Last weekend, we had a glorious hike to Comanche Lake. The weather was perfect and there was a hint of fall color starting. It is hunting season now, so Shrek has to wear a bright orange bow on his collar so that all hunters know he is a dog and not a wild critter. He also now wears a bear bell, after our recent bear adventures, in the hope that he won’t startle any more baby cubs and their bear mothers!

We’re thinking that the fall colors ought to be really nice in the next week or two.

See you later allegator!

Life on the farm right now is all about the harvest season, which is fitting as we enter the beginning days of Autumn. We have been harvesting fruit and vegetables and seed crops like nobody’s business. The past 2 weeks have been largely about peaches!

We have kept family and friends and neighbors in supply of fresh peaches, with always several large bowls and platters of peaches on our own countertop. They are so delicious and we haven’t wanted to waste a single one!

This is a little over 200 peaches and these went to the local food bank.

It hasn’t just been about peaches either. We’ve been picking lots of different varieties of apples from our heirloom fruit tree orchard. These are Blue Parmain, Yellow Flower Ball and Winter Red Flesh. We have quite a few other varieties piled in the kitchen too.

I’ve also been harvesting fresh pea greens to add to salads, stir fry and omelets. There has been so many fresh pea greens to cut that Hannah and Gretel the ducks have been enjoying them for breakfast too. Did you know that fresh young pea greens taste exactly like fresh peas! Try them. They are super tasty. We cut the greens from the plants for several weeks and then we let the plants grow up as normal and they will produce pea pods that we can harvest in a few weeks. Our friend, Diana of Perennial Favorites, shared with us some years back that freshly cut pea greens were delicious and until then I didn’t know you could eat the greens. So glad we know that now.

This load of peaches, about 4oo count, went to the Lincoln School of Science and Technology so that all the children and the staff could share in our peach harvest.

We have partnered with this Elementary school for this school year and they will not only be visiting the farm in early October, but we will be sharing farm gifts and monthly farm happenings updates with the school community all this year until next summer. We are super excited to have this connection with the Lincoln kids.

Mr. Olguin, their Principal, took charge of the peaches when I delivered them to the school this past Monday morning.

And still there are peach happenings! I have filled my freezer literally with frozen peaches. These are going to be super great to have all through the winter and spring months until next summer’s tree fruit harvest happens. We will be making peach crisp, peach bread, eating them with yogurt and nuts for breakfast and all sorts of other ways too.

And finally we are left with a big pan full of peach pits from all these peaches. These are now in the seed fridge in stratification (a cold treatment) and will be planted before long so that we will have lots of young peach trees to sell in the Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days next spring.

But, like I said, there is a lot of different kinds of harvesting happening around the farm this time of the year. Kaila and Chris have been continuing to pick flower seeds each and every day. Kaila is harvesting Leopard Flower seed on Thursday.

This next week, Nate will be back to help pick seeds too. We’ve missed him and it will be great to have his help. Sadly, Kaila has finished her work season for this year and is now helping the Abbey Winery with the grape harvest making wine. We will miss her greatly!

So, today I have raspberries and strawberries to pick. Tomatoes and Red Kuri Squash are ready and several kinds of dried beans need harvesting. The potatoes are ready to harvest, a few cucumbers, and the garlic is cured now and I need to clean it and put it into baskets to store for the winter season’s use.

I can’t tell you how much gratitude I feel for all this abundance. We are so lucky to be gifted with such amazing food from our gardens.

 

Recently, we took the farm crew for a day at Denver Botanic Gardens. We had a great day!

We walked the entire grounds of the Gardens, enjoying all the areas from the water lily pond to the plains garden, rock alpine garden, herb garden and dozens of others. We wandered the conservatory and the orchid room too.

Chris, Lizz and I go every year with whomever is working on the farm at that time. This year it was Nate and Kaila and it was a first trip to DBG for both of them.

 

Two weeks ago, Shrek and Chris had an encounter on their Sangres hike with a mother bear and her cub. Thank goodness the mother bear was happy to only scare Chris and Shrek and the incident turned out fine.

Last Sunday we were hiking a different trail in the Sangres. I had stopped hiking early due to a broken toe that wasn’t quite as healed as I had hoped and I decided not to continue up the mountain trail. Chris and Shrek went on up the trail. At the top of the trail, Chris caught a glimpse of a bear off in the distance. No encounter this time for the guys.

I have a different story to tell, though, about my own encounter with a full grown black bear that day. See this picture of the rock and the log about 3 feet away from the big rock? Well, imagine my back pack leaning up against that big rock, and me leaning against the pack using it like a pillow, taking a nap in the middle of the trail. I had walked down the to the trail head and was planning to wait for Chris and Shrek there. I took some pictures, had a snack, read my book and was just having a leisurely time of it. I got sleepy, so I decided to take a nap while I waited.

I had been asleep about an hour when I heard steps coming up to my head. I thought it was Chris and Shrek returning down the trail, so I turned around to look up at him approaching, but instead I looked straight into the face of a black bear 3 feet away from my head. Well, I jumped up and when I did, I scared the bear and it ran back up the hill. At the top of the hill, the bear stopped and turned around to look at me, so I made some loud gruff noises and the bear ran off over the top of the little hill.

Then I kept a keen look-out to make sure the bear didn’t try to return to see what tasty things I might have had in my pack or whether I myself might be tasty as a snack. I half wanted the bear to come back so that I could take a picture of it. It really was an amazing and beautiful creature! The other half of me didn’t want the bear to come back, because I knew that if the bear did come back it would mean that it wasn’t afraid of me after all and that could be a dangerous situation. The bear did not come back and about half an hour later Chris and Shrek really did show up from their hike and we walked the rest of the trail together back to our vehicle.

This is the time of the year when the bears are trying to load up on calories in preparation for the coming cold months, so it is not surprising that we would see them while we are out hiking. I’m sure the bear that came close to me had probably been watching me for a while sleeping on the trail and was curious of what I was and what I was doing just laying so still and quiet on the ground. It is possible that the bear has also realized that backpacks mean a possible source of food, and since nothing was moving around my pack, it decided it would go explore what might be good to eat in that pack. Anyway, I’m in gratitude for the chance to see a majestic animal like that up close and I’m also grateful that all ended well and no one was hurt.

Chris with his new gypsy guitar. He has cleaned it up and re-strung it with new strings and getting to know how it plays now.

Not much new farm news this week. The seed crops are in full-boil harvest now and Chris and Kaila are picking seed like crazy. I’ve been helping a bit too in between doing my own farm chores and working on my book project.

It’s been hotter than blazes here and no real moisture, although we did get one small rain of 3/10″. Of course that was appreciated, but things are so dry at the moment that it didn’t put much of a dent in that situation. With temps in the high 90’s and over 100 degrees for many days running, we are feeling a little bit weary. Tomorrow it is supposed to begin to cool down into the 80’s and maybe a chance of some rain each day. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that will happen. Looking forward to Autumn weather – the best season of the year!

All for now. Cheers!

 

We are entering the third week of August and for me this is the first nature sign that summer is coming to a close and Autumn will soon be arriving. All the neighbor kids went back to school this week. The spots on the baby fawns are starting to fade away. Lizz and I are working to put the greenhouse tasks in place to prepare for the autumn propagation season. Chris and his crew are harvesting seed crops like crazy, and the fruit trees are coming close to harvest. Ahhh…soon it will be my most favorite time of the year!

This is my very handsome husband in his seed harvesting gear. Knee protection really helps when you are picking seed by hand all day, mostly on your hands and knees. Of course, you can see Shrek, the supervisor, doing his part of the harvest work :-}

One of the tasks that had to be done before the seasons shift was to rebuild Hannah and Gretel’s duck island. Chris pulled it out of the pond with Poppy the tractor and then Lizz and I had the very stinky and messy task of removing old noodle floats, replacing them with new ones, adding fresh straw and then with Chris’ help, pulling it back into the pond again for the duck women!

The ducks think their fresh island is grand.

I was the guest on Dean Brady’s local radio show called Brady’s Garden Show. We had a blast talking about growing herbs in your garden. Brady’s Garden Center has copies of my books now for sale in their store, and they gifted a copy of Homegrown Herbs to a call-in listener during the radio show.  Thanks Dean!

I’ll be the guest on the Brady’s Garden Show again on September 5, 2019, from 9 to 10 am, and this time we will be talking about growing Perennials to attract butterflies, bees and wild birds – all good wildlife to have in your garden landscape.

There was a FAR (Fremont Adventure Recreation Group) Farm to Table event at the Abbey Winery on the 17th August. Chris and his gypsy jazz band played for that event. This is Drew on mandolin and Frank on bass, Chris in the middle on guitar. They sounded amazing! Chris and I are crazy about listening to gypsy jazz, which is such fun music. It will make you smile a LOT!

This is my childhood guitar, which has apparently become a sought-after vintage guitar. Who would have thought it! Chris, of course, had an idea about that and asked if he could play my guitar as one of his own. Absolutely! I almost never play it anymore, so it was an honor to gift it to Chris. Chris worked some of his luthier magic on this guitar and it plays really nice. He’s enjoying it and I enjoy listening to him play it.

These are my parents by marriage, Ted and Jody, and I love them dearly as my own parents. It is nearly 25 years now since they welcomed me into their family as Chris’ wife. Our niece, Francina, sent this picture of them (they all live in Nebraska) doing a bit of porch-sitting and listening to gypsy jazz. They like it too.

Several of our fruit trees are getting close to harvest now. We are already picking a few kinds of apples, with more apple varieties to come as the fall goes along. The Italian Plums are within a couple days of being ready to pick. Actually, I like them firm, so I’m already eating them, but it will be a couple more days before they are soft enough to suit Chris’ taste preference.

We have several large peach trees that are filled to the gills with fruit and they are also getting close to being just the right ripeness to pick. Nate, Kaila and I put bird flash tape on the peach trees last Wednesday to keep the birds from eating the peaches before we can harvest them. Bird Flash tape has always worked well for me to protect ripening fruit from being eaten up by birds. I always leave the very top of the trees without flash tape, as these fruits are difficult for me to reach anyway, for the birds. It’s only right and fair that the wildlife gets their portion of the fruit harvest so I’m happy to share the tree in this fashion. I’ll harvest from the lower parts of the trees and they can forage on the top of the trees. Works every time.

I’m also picking raspberries and strawberries now in addition to the vegetables. The raspberries are just beginning to produce now, so hopefully there will be an ongoing supply for a good long while and I can fill up the freezers with berries and tree fruit for winter besides what we are eating in the moment fresh. Tis the season of abundance and we are in deep gratitude!!!

This small hawk has its lunch here regularly. The meal is a ring neck Eurasian dove usually, of which we have too many! These doves are not a native bird (and not a good member of the bird community either), so the fact that the  hawks like to hunt them for lunch is a good solution to a situation that could easily become out of control. The birds of prey (hawks, owls, falcons, eagles and the like) are good at managing populations of prey animals that would otherwise become too abundant and cause serious damage to the nature habitat. So, all things in balance. All things must eat, just as we do, and the hawks help manage the ring neck dove population and that is a good thing.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Not too much to write about this week. Lizz is planting for next spring in the greenhouses and Kaila and Nate are helping Chris pick a boat-load of perennial seed every day now in the flower field. I’ve been mostly stuck in the dungeon (what I call my office) working on computer work, of which I have several very big office tasks to get accomplished before September 1st, so I’m trying to stay focused. That’s hard to do when I’d rather be outdoors doing things. Oh well…

The Winter Redflesh Apple tree is loaded with little apples. This is one of my favorite apple trees in our orchard. The apples are a large-sized crabapple with purple skin and pink flesh. They are tart and delicious and make incredibly tasty applesauce!

I did have a great visit with my friend Ro and her dog Nani yesterday morning. It has been a couple of months since we have been able to visit, so we both enjoyed it very much.

This week is going to be very full of tasks and visitors. I will be doing a radio show on Thursday morning at 9am on KRLN our local radio station. It’s the Brady’s Garden Show and I’ll be their guest. We’ll be talking about growing herbs in your garden.

Then on Friday, the Cheyenne Mountain Garden Club will be visiting our farm for a Farm Tour.We are looking forward to their visit.

On Saturday, I will be giving a Plant Walk-About on Weeds and Wild Plants and ways to use them. There is still room in this class if you’d like to register. It will be from 10-12noon on the 17th August here at Desert Canyon Farm. You can register at dcfhomeplace@gmail.com by sending your name, email and phone number for yourself and every one that will be attending in your group. The cost is $15.00/person. There is more information on the “classes & events” page of this blog.

Finally, on Saturday evening Chris will be playing Gypsy Jazz with his fellow musicians Drew and Frank for the FARm to Table event at the Abbey Winery. I will be there with a booth filled with information for Desert Canyon Farm.

All for now. I expect that next week I will have more to share.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

About 2 weeks ago, I showed the field crew how to make St. John’s Wort infused oil. Every year I make this oil and then later turn it into skin cream to use as a sun screen. Every year, I’m just as much in awe of this wonderful medicinal plant as I have been for more than 40 years running!

Below is one of my propagation logs, which I have kept every year since 1985. Inside the cover is all the information about the seeding and vegetative propagation that I or the farm crew has done for each and every plant grown here, and before that when I was the plant propagator at Paulino Gardens in Denver, CO.

These propagation logs are so helpful when I have questions about something I have grown or just want to take a look back in my history as a plant woman.

Speaking of being a plant woman…for me that started at a very young age, maybe even at birth…who knows. Below is my first Herbarium of plant specimens that I created when I was 7 years old in the 2nd grade!

It’s filled with specimens of leaves, dandelions and goldenrod, even sage! I pulled it out of its safe-keeping place today to look through it and also to use it for a project related to the children’s plant book I’m working on with Cornelia Funke.

I also welcomed 3 amazing women to the farm this past Tuesday night for a Plant Walk-About for Trees and Shrubs. We had a blast! It was extra special because these are 3 special women in my life. Rebecca with black hair and Karen with the gray dress came into my life nearly 20 years ago as herb students. They have been dear friends ever since those days. Many of you know Liz, in the white top, as we lovingly call her Farm Stand Liz during our Open Farm Days when she and Stephanie take care of the Farm Stand store. She and I share a passion for plants and wildlife and our cats ;-} , and that has created a wonderful friendship.

We also have a new field crew person. Welcome to Nate! We are enjoying his company and his help already and he’s only been here a couple of days so far. He has definitely passed Shrek’s affection test, as has Kaila.

Sadly, Michael, our field Intern, left this week to go back to college in Kansas. We’ll miss him greatly.

Hannah and Gretel wanted to say hello too!

Our hike this week took us up Horn Creek Trail and the wildflowers continue to be incredible.

I always hike with a walking stick and this is a cedar walking stick made for me many years back by a dear friend, Jon Morganson. Over the years, I’ve added my own bits of important “stuff”, all with their own bits of stories, to my walking stick. It is very special to me.

We have more baby birds living in the cow skull on the Little Garden House.

And just to make sure I leave you with one more good smile for the evening…