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It’s been nearly 2 weeks since I’ve taken the time to sit a spell at my computer and write a new blog post. My apologies for that long spell. There is a lot to share about what is happening around here these days, so let me tell you about it…

This past week we sadly sent our intern, Sarah, on her way back to Kansas so that she can get ready for another college school year. We have so enjoyed her help, and even more, her company this summer. Have a great school year Sarah!

We also welcomed Nicolle to the farm crew to finish out the seed season. She has been working all summer as a rafting guide and now she is helping us 4 mornings a week with the field work. She brings a cheerful smile to work each day and we are looking forward to getting to know her more as we all work together for the rest of the summer.

It is a good tree fruit year for us. Our young heirloom orchard is giving us a first crop for many of the small trees and we are delighted! The tree above is one of my favorite. It is a very large crab apple variety called Winter Red Flesh and the apples have nearly purple skin and the inside is bright pinkish-red. They are wonderful cooking apples and despite being a small apple in size (2-3″ in diameter) they are so tasty, they are well worth growing.

You can only see a few more apples left on this tree, which is a Gravenstein Apple. Tart and delicious! The apples are large and I picked a very big bowl-full. These lingering ones are not quite ripe yet, but I think by next week they will be ready to pick.

I also picked all the Early Gold Apples and cooked them in the crock pot. They were delicious, but in truth, both Chris and I wished we had just eaten them fresh rather than cooking them, because they were sweet and yummy straight off the tree.

The Stanley plums are almost ready to pick and I’m hoping by the weekend we can be eating fresh plums!

We have 4 peach trees loaded with fruit and they are not yet ripe to harvest, but they are showing a blush of color now, so I put the bird flash tape in the trees this week to help detour the birds from eating the peaches before they are ripe enough to pick. This strategy has worked well for me over the years, so I expect it to work well again this year at protecting the fruit from being ravaged by the birds before it is ready to eat.

My mom and dad were by  two days ago and Mom took the opportunity to feed Hannah and Gretel and have a visit with them while they were eating. I think they all enjoyed that visit!

I finally got my windows washed! That is a full day’s job usually and the windows were in bad shape and needing a good cleaning. Saturday was the day.

Have you ever grown nantes or french paris carrots in containers? If not, you should consider it. We sell these carrot boxes in our Farm Stand store each spring, but I also grow my carrots for our eating like this all year-long. The boxes have been ready to harvest for a while now and I just haven’t been able to get to them, but yesterday while Shrek and I were enjoying some relaxing porch time, I pulled the carrots out of one of the boxes.

As soon as I pull the carrots out, I twist off the green tops and give those to the ducks. The carrots go in a large bowl to be washed.

One 15″ x 4″ box gave me half a large bowl full of sweet carrots to eat. This is a very easy way to grow carrots, green onions or bunching onions. The boxes can be grown indoors during the cold months of the year and out on a porch or patio during warm months of the year. Eating fresh grown carrots makes store-bought carrots look pretty second-class, as fresh grown carrots seem to be twice or maybe three times as sweet. Give it a try! There are varieties of carrots that only grow 2-6 inches long that are perfect for container growing. I like the round French Paris Market carrots and Chantenay Nantes carrots the best, but there are many choices.

For many years now I have been wanting to put up a Give-Away Reading Library at the front of the Farm driveway, but I’ve never gotten it accomplished. For even more years we have had a give-away reading basket inside our house that friends, family and farm crew could forage through whenever they came inside the house and help themselves to the books and magazines, audio books and such that we had finished with, but I always thought it would be nice to have a larger version of the reading basket outside that the whole community could take books from.

Finally, I have my Give-Away Reading Library almost ready to go. I still need to get a post from the lumber yard to mount it on and then once that is done, I’ll stock it with books and magazines that anyone can help themselves to if they enjoy reading. My hope is to have this little library out at the edge of the Farm front yard very soon, but I think I’m going to need to recruit Chris to help me set the post in place and attach the library to the post, so I’ll need to wait until he has a free moment from his own chores to help me. Soon, though, Soon!

I’ve decided that our Farm Greeting Scare Crows are needing retired. They have become pretty faded and weather worn and some wild critter is taking the straw out of this guy’s jeans. Now this scare crow hardly has a knee left! Oh my… I think I’ll just take them away soon and reuse the straw in the garden beds and then later this fall, perhaps I’ll make some new scarecrows to have around. I’m pretty attached to them, as they always make me smile. The current batch of scare crows were made by the greenhouse spring crew and they are great. So, keep your eye out this fall for new Farm Greeting Scare Crows.

Two Sundays ago we went hiking with new friends, Brad and Jan, who are also our neighbors. They are from the east coast and are now exploring the rocky mountains and living in the high mountain desert of Colorado. We are enjoying their company very much.

The highlight of our week was a visit from M’lissa and Luke with their kids, Gabe and Lyli. We love these kids (young and older) so much and we had a really nice day with them last Tuesday. We took Grandma and Grandpa with us to eat pizza in town for lunch and then we went to explore the new Dinosaur Experience Museum near the Royal Gorge. These young ones love dinosaurs, especially Gabe, and they know a whole LOT about them. We had a blast!

Now I’m going to get ready for the arrival of one of my dearest friends in the whole world. We started our friendship as kindergarteners and we really think of each other more as sisters and friends. Janiece will be arriving tomorrow for a visit this week. It’s been a few years since we have seen each other in person, although we keep in touch every week, and I can’t wait to give her a big hug!

My sunflowers next to the front porch have begun to bloom this week and they are so sassy and cheerful…they make me smile each time I walk past them.

I’ll try to do a better job of writing the next post in a more timely way.  Until then…have a great week.

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Another very full week here at the farm! So much of it was things that make my heart sing.

On Monday we took the summer farm crew (except Beki, who couldn’t make it, and we missed her) for a field trip to Denver Botanic Gardens. Chris, Susan and Lizz, Romie (Susan’s French exchange student) and Sarah and I spent the day enjoying the 3 acre adventure of gardens in the heart of Denver.

We had a great time!!

Look at these lily pads….oh my goodness!

One of the things here at my homeplace each summer that brings me incredible happiness is seeing my pomegranate tree flower on my back porch and the hummingbirds enjoying those flowers immensely.

The result of all that enjoyment ends up being baby pomegranate fruits growing. Around the end of October-early November they will be ripe for the picking and I’ll enjoy every bite of homegrown pomegranate fruits.

And look at the leaves on the pomegranate tree. If you notice, they have half circles cut out of them. Well, this is not a pest insect doing this, but rather it is a leaf-cutter solitary bee. They cut pieces of leaves and flowers and line their nests inside of hollow sticks and branches with the plant material. Think how cushy that will be for a young baby bee after it hatches from an egg and as it is growing in the nest. If you look around in your garden, I bet you will see some signs of leaf cutter bees too. These are beneficial insects and they pollinate the flowers in your garden. Don’t fret about them, or the cuts they make in your leaves and flowers, and certainly do not do them any harm. They are good for the garden!

A huge thank you goes out to all the folks who bought raffle tickets this spring during Open Farm Days in the hopes of winning one of the two fairy gardens we gave away. Money earned from selling raffle tickets is used to buy fresh produce for our local food bank and this was the week that happened. I bought 45 lbs of fresh western slope peaches from Spencer’s Farm Market in Colorado Springs with the raffle money and delivered them to the food bank. There were a lot of excited people at the food bank to see those peaches, which are always a special treat, and something different from what is often donated. Hats off to the Farm visitors who made this happen! You have our gratitude and that of the people who eat from the food bank’s offerings!! That definitely made my heart sing!

And tonight I got another gift from the realm of Mother Nature. I was making a chili rellano casserole from chili peppers I picked out of my garden yesterday. When I looked out the kitchen window, about 8 feet away was this fawn resting next to our bird bath and the generator. I took a picture thru the window screen and went outdoors to hang my wash up on the line, hoping not to disturb this little sweet creature.

I didn’t disturb it at all…in fact I went around the corner of the back porch and snapped this picture just so that I would have a picture that wasn’t fuzzy from the window screen material. Doesn’t seeing this sweet fawn make your heart sing?

Last Sunday found us on our weekly hike, this time on the Horn Lakes trail, and we had perfect weather and a lovely day. Hiking makes my heart sing so much I’m sure it can be heard on the other side of the world. Being out in nature is one of the things we most enjoy in life.

At every opportunity, and certainly at every stream crossing, Shrek made a point to do a bit of fish hunting. He could see them swimming around, but they are way too fast for him.

Doesn’t he look handsome in his new doggie backpack. He had an old one, but it didn’t fit well, so we rarely used it. This new one fits pretty good, so now he carries his own water bowl and dog food.

The wildflowers were so beautiful and this bumblebee really thought the Delphinium was fantastic.

Then there are our wonderful cats, which make me so happy I can’t tell you. They enrich our lives greatly and entertain us on a non-stop basis, like these 2-year-old boys, Pal and Willow. Sadie seems to be missing in the bit of action.

One minute everything is calm and sweet and in the next second it’s a brotherly wrestling match!

I had another wonderful gift this week. Two nights ago, Hannah and Gretel returned! They originally came in early February and were here until the first part of May and then overnight they were gone. That made me incredibly sad and they have been gone since then. Now this week they have returned and we are so happy to see them. I’m thrilled beyond words that they are back. They look like the dickens, and wherever they have been, it has not been kind to them, with feathers pulled out, they are skinny with sores on their heads and faces. But they seem quite happy to be back in the pond and having good food to eat and kind words that make them talk back to us. They are enjoying summer squash breakfasts with their grains, along with foraging bugs and greens around the pond. Hannah and Gretel totally make my heart sing!

It was a great week here…full and rich. We’ve been getting rain nearly every afternoon or evening and for the time being the lack of irrigation water is not threatening our farm season. As long as the monsoon rains continue, our water worries should be ok. That has put us deeply in gratitude and our hearts are singing full and loud over the nourishing rain we are receiving.

So, now let me ask you what and who makes your heart sing? The gifts in life are so many, and even when there might be incredible challenges to deal and cope with, there are still gifts. Sometimes I find that they are very small and hard to see, but if I think on it for a few moments, I can find them. Other gifts in life are bold and easy to discover.  What in your life makes your heart sing?

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

We had a really good week and a really bad week both this past week. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

We attended and hosted a workshop short course put on by the Xerces Society called Farming with Beneficial Insects. It was superb! In the morning we had classroom presentations. Then after lunch we all headed out to our farm for some hands-on work catching, identifying and discussing different insects, including predator and pollinator insects as well as pest insects.

Dr. Whitney Crenshaw from CSU was one of the presenters and he was great! When we got to the farm he had nets in his car and showed everyone the proper way to use them to catch insects and then we spent time looking closely at them.

There were nearly 40 people here for this event. Some of them spent time in the Mojave Sage seed crop looking at the insects there.

Susan, who is one of our farm crew members found rove beetles in the pasture grass habitat.

Sarah, Susan and Beki (all work with Chris and I here at the Farm) found hover flies, different kinds of bees, pilot bugs and loads of other kinds of beneficials. Everyone learned so much and we all had a great time!  If you have an opportunity to take one of these Xerces Society Short Courses, we highly recommend them. This one was incredible.

Chris spent time this week trimming trees with the chain saw and pole trimmers. There is more trimming to do, but he got a great start on it and the honeysuckle (aka: Peace Tree) looks very beautiful now.

We had great sadness this week too as one set of the twin fawns were hit by a car driving like a race car on the road that is in front of our farm. When it’s fawn season, Chris puts out big red signs at both ends of the farm on Field Ave. to remind people there are baby deer crossing the road randomly. Baby deer are like all baby animals in that they don’t really know much about cars yet, or to watch out for them, and when they get busy playing or run across the road looking for their mothers, they just go for it. If people are driving at a safe speed, they most likely will see these little ones in time to stop, but we have way too many drivers on this road that drive incredibly fast (10-30 miles over the speed limit) and there is no way they can stop in time, and sadly, many of them don’t even seem to care.

The driver that hit these twins killed one right away, but the other one lingered for 40 minutes in terrible pain while we waited for the Wildlife Warden to arrive to put this little one out of its misery. That driver did not even slow down, much less stop. A car with two teenagers did stop and the young man in that car held that baby deer in his lap trying to comfort that little one and protect it from getting run over by another car until the wildlife officer arrived. Meanwhile, Chris and I, the neighbor across the street, and the mother of the teenagers kept headlights and flashlights shining on the boy and the deer to make sure on-coming cars didn’t run over them. That young man deserves a lot of thanks for the compassion he showed that night.

Why do I insist on sharing all these unpleasant details with you…because that could just have easily been a little child that was hit by a driver going way to fast. What is wrong with our world that so many of us act like we can’t take time or energy to behave in a responsible and sane way? People are too uptight so much of the time that they can’t remember how to behave in a good way, and more importantly, they need to remember that life is all around us and we should be able to appreciate it and respect it. That includes people, animals wild and domestic, plants, water, clouds…all of it. Drivers, please drive the speed limit and keep your eyes open for kids and adults riding bicycles or walking along the road, deer, dogs, skunks. All creatures are living beings. If you don’t like them, that’s your business, but there is no need to be intentionally dangerous or disrespectful towards them.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I hope that it will remind all of us to be more careful.

The other unfortunate thing that happened is we were told yesterday that there will be no more irrigation water delivered to us unless the monsoon rains arrive and help replenish our water shed where our irrigation water originates. That is from the back side of Pikes’ Peak mountain and if you live in southern Colorado, you probably know that Pike’s Peak is dry as an old bone. So, we were grateful to get this last irrigation water delivery this morning. Now we hope it holds us over until some rain from Mother Nature arrives.

On a happier note, we have Early Gold apples nearly ripe in the orchard and the peaches are doing good so far. The raspberry bed is starting to flower, so soon, with a bit of luck we’ll be picking fresh raspberries for breakfast. Hope you are enjoying your gardens too!

 

 

 

Yesterday afternoon about 3:30pm it started to rain! We have been desperate for rain and the monsoon season to begin and it just hasn’t been happening. Our irrigation water supply is running out, as Four Mile Creek (the source of our irrigation water) is turning from a creek flow into not too much more than a puddle. When you are a farmer, and actually this is true for everyone, water is your lifeblood and the thought of ours running out or becoming seriously in very short supply has been scary, but yesterday we had a really good soaking rain and that is a big break for us and means that things will be ok for a while longer. Better yet, it appears that the whole region got good rain, which means that there should be more water in the creek and that will start to take the pressure off for our irrigation season challenges. Hopefully, yesterday’s rain is just the beginning of a good monsoon season and we will start getting regular rain showers now.

We actually got  nearly 2.5″ of rain in about 3 hours yesterday. That is glorious and I hope wherever you are you are getting good moisture too.

It’s time for my Annual Free Market Event

I want to let you know that next Saturday, on July 21st, I’ll be having my Free Market event here in the Farm’s front yard.

If you aren’t familiar with what a Free Market is, it is just like a regular yard sale, except everything is free! This is a good way for us to hand off belongings that we no longer need or want to someone else who can use them.

I’m planning to have everything out about 9am and the Free Market will last until I’m tired of doing it on Saturday afternoon. Whatever is leftover when I close the Free Market Saturday afternoon will go to the thrift store. Please note that this is not a plant sale, it’s a yard sale give-away minus the sale part…you can pick out whatever I have in the yard available as part of the Free Market and take it home at no cost to you.

Come by if you what to browse our offerings. We’re located at 1270 Field Ave. in Canon City. Do not expect anything to be out before 9am, so please do not come early. Thanks.

I think that is all our news for now. Enjoy your week and hopefully you’ll stop in next Saturday and do a bit of free shopping at my Free Market event.

Recently, I planted some leftover Country Fair Zinnias near our front porch. Zinnias are not really one of my favorite flowers, but they are colorful and cheerful and they look very nice around the porch. The very next day after I planted them, the butterflies have arrived in mass. All types of butterflies are visiting the zinnias, but the large swallowtails seem to be everywhere…not just on the zinnias, but on the chilopsis, the hollyhocks, yellow echinacea…wow! They are so beautiful!!!

Something else major has happened recently too and this one is a bit of a puzzle. I’ve always been told by the experts, and read this too in several places, that passionflower requires pollination by bats in order to produce fruit. Indeed, the plants in my garden do get pollinated by bats and they do produce fruit. I have three different species of passiflora growing in pots in the greenhouse, as these are our propagation stock, and they NEVER see a bat inside the greenhouse and look what is happening. We have loads of passiflora fruit developing on two of the plants! So, now I’m puzzled as to how these plants are getting pollinated and by whom that they are producing a bumper crop of fruit?

Who could it be besides bats? There are earwigs, pill bugs, flies, gnats, slugs, mice, garter snakes, but not bats…hmmm. One thing is for sure, though, we are going to happily eat those fruits when they are ready to harvest.

As I said in earlier posts, we are now back to our routine of one full day (nearly full day once the greenhouse watering is done) of hiking in the Sangres or Deer Haven each week. Sarah, who is our farm intern this summer, went with us on a recent hike and we so enjoyed her company.

On this hike the flowers were really gorgeous and many familiar herbs to share with Sarah. Below is the Osha’ plant in beautiful bloom.

Heartleaf Arnica is also blooming abundantly.

One of our native little clematis too. We saw wild roses, cow parsnip, parry’s primrose and shooting stars. There was native phlox and sedum, rhodiola and many many more green plant friends of mine.

We had a bite of lunch at the alpine lake, which was quite nice.

Of course, Shrek thought this part of the day was for lake fishing as he scouted and tried to catch the lake trout. He’s no where near fast enough and I think the fish probably just laugh at his efforts.

Sarah came to work on Monday with the most amazing gift for us. It is a beautiful crocheted rug she had made. Oh my goodness…it is beautiful. Sadie has decided it is her special place to hang out. It’s cushy and soft and she thinks it is grand too.

And…the babies are here now with their mamas. We have at least 6 little fawns in the herd that spends time on our farm. There is one set of twins and I think all the rest are single fawns. Early in the mornings they are romping in the flower seed crop production field, which all fawns every year seem to think is a giant fawn playground. We are delighted they are here and we’re having a blast watching them. Their moms are struggling though, as with the hot dry weather conditions, there is less for them to eat and they are pretty skinny as they nurse their little ones.

Greenhouse housekeeping continues as Lizz and I work to get things sorted, organized, and new stock plants potted up. Lizz will have her mid-summer vacation soon and when she gets back it will be time to start moving up some of the plants into larger pots. We will be doing our seed inventory, picking seed from the gardens to use when we start planting for next spring’s inventory, and making plans as to which plants and how much of each plant we will plan to grow for spring 2019. Seems like we  only just got through the spring this year and already it is time to begin planning for next spring. By August, we will begin planting for next spring, and August isn’t very far away.

In the meantime, though, Chris, Susan and Sarah are very busy with seed crops (weeding harvesting seed, planting new crops and so on). I’m getting time in my gardens, which makes me quite happy. This week Lizz harvested the currants, I harvested strawberries and carrots and lettuce and peppers, plus tomatoes. There were so many currants and strawberries, oh, and tart cherries too, that I was able to put some in the freezer to use next winter. Life is good and I am in gratitude!

 

Last weekend found our Open Farm Days over and our Farm Stand store closed until next spring, but that didn’t mean we were sitting around relaxing…Saturday found me at Tagawa Garden Center in Centennial, CO giving a workshop on Plants to Attract or Deter Wildlife during their Herb Fest event. It was a lovely event and the people who came to my class were wonderful, plus a few surprises. Several of our Farm visitors came to the class at Tagawas, plus my cousins by marriage, Hal and Carol, were there. The real treat was my childhood next door neighbor came and I haven’t seen her since I was in 9th grade. Her daughter and I were best friends and Sue and my mom were such good friends. What a gift to see her again.

The spring is so busy that there hardly seems time for regular life to exist, but it does and this spring it brought terrible sadness to our family. This is my Uncle Doug and my dad (they were first childhood friends and later became family), and recently my Uncle passed over. He and Aunt Diane have always been such a solid part of my existence in huge loving and nurturing way. He’s left us now, but left us with so much love and goodness. My heart is now with Aunt Diane and my cousins Kris and Wendy and their families, knowing that life will never look the same, but also knowing that Uncle Doug left them, and us, with such richness.

Our parents celebrated 67 years of marriage. We missed their party, but were thrilled to get this picture of the happy event. I hope Chris and I can someday celebrate 67 years of happy marriage. Wow!

Last Sunday was our first hiking day! We got a late start, as it still takes a long time to do all the greenhouse watering and other farm chores in the morning before we could leave, but then off we went with our friend Dwayne to the Sangre Mountains for a hike to Megan Lake. The flowers along the trail were incredible and it was a delicious day for us. It was my first day off since December 25th, and even though it wasn’t a full day off, it felt great to have time to do something extra fun and relaxing and off-farm.

Farm work has still taken up most of our time and attention. I’ve been moving and consolidating plants into greenhouses where they are easier to take care of. Lizz has been doing the same, so we have been super busy this week. Our wholesale customers ordered much of our leftover Farm Stand store inventory. The Farm Stand nursery is mostly empty now except for a few sea buckthorn bushes and a few heirloom fruit trees.

Sarah and Susan have been working hard in the flower field weeding seed crops and starting to pick some seed now every day. Chris spent three days instead of five doing order deliveries, and Lizz got one extremely weedy and messy flower garden tidied up and beautiful! That was a very big accomplishment!

On Thursday late mornings all of our farm family, Lizz, Susan and Sarah, and I take a little time to gather and talk about plants each week. This is a tradition that began 3 or 4 years ago with our farm crew and we continue it because we all enjoy it and we all learn new things about plants. This week we talked about some different trees here on the farm and all the ways they can be used.

On Thursday evening Chris’ jazz band played for the FAR event at the Abbey Winery. The FAR group is composed of people who love the outdoors and doing outdoor recreational activities like hiking, biking, and so forth. They are responsible for a great many outdoor events in our town and county…they are activists for getting people more involved in nature and encouraging the local government to put energy and resources into promoting these types of things here. They do great work and this event was really fun to show support for FAR, and visit with friends and listen to Chris’ band play some excellent jazz music. The Abbey Winery had wine tastings happening and they hosted the event on the Abbey Winery front yard, which is lovely, with huge shade trees and historic buildings. If you visit Chris’ Facebook page, you can listen to a video that Frank (the bass player) made of some of the music they played.

Today, I got my first opportunity to drive Poppy and do some of the mowing around here. I had a great time driving our tractor (aka: Poppy for those of you who don’t know her name). For those of you who know me, though, you will know that I despise mowing grass of any kind, so I’ll probably ask to be assigned a different chore by Chris next time I get a hankering to drive Poppy ;-}

I’ll be back in touch next week with more news and happenings. In the meantime, have a great week and do some rain dancing…ok! We badly need moisture here and the monsoon rains need to get cranked up and happening.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

Last weekend brought the end of our Spring Open Farm Days and our Farm Stand Plant Sale. The farm is now back to being strictly wholesale only. Thank you to every single farm visitor that came this spring!!! We so enjoyed having you at the farm and I hope you had a really good time. Perhaps you were able to find some great potted plants to purchase and plant in your gardens while you were here. Thank you for all your support and making it possible for this small family farm to support us and our farm crew and the work we do here. It really means a lot to Chris and I! We hope you will visit us again next spring for 2019 Open Farm Days and our Plant Sale.

There are other things happening this summer that might be of interest. This coming Saturday, June 16, 2018 from noon to 1pm, I will be speaking at Tagawa Garden Center’s Herb Fest celebration in Centennial, Colorado. They have a number of really excellent workshops planned and you should see the amazing selection of plants, especially herbs, they have available. I’ll be giving a presentation on “Herbs to Attract & Deter Wildlife” with a booksigning immediately after my class. If you don’t yet have my books, this would be a wonderful opportunity for you to purchase them. They will have all three of my titles available…Homegrown Herbs, The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener, and Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. If you go to the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you can get the contact information for this event.

Another fantastic herbal festival will be happening June 22-24, 2018 in Lafayette, Colorado. It is called Botanica; A Festival of Plants and I know it is going to be amazing! Sadly, I will not be able to speak at this event as planned, so if you are going and were thinking of coming to my class, please plan to attend one of the other amazing classes instead. If you go to the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you will find the link for Botanica so that you can get more information and can register to attend.

It has been very hot and dry so far this summer, but the forecasters are saying that the upcoming and soon coming monsoon season should be very strong and good with a shift for the positive in the moisture patterns. Yahoo! We are hoping those rains start happening very soon. In the meantime, though, we have had a wildfire not very far from the farm on Cooper Mountain’s BLM land. We’ve been keeping an eye on this and can easily see the smoke from the flower field. We hike in this area and it has been exceptionally dry – perfect conditions with all the afternoon wind we have been having for wildfires. If you are out in wild lands, please use great care that you don’t accidentally start a fire somehow. It is especially important not to have campfires right now (it’s too hot for a campfire anyway ;-}). It’s just not worth the chance that the winds will catch an ember and carry it off where it might catch dry grass or other plants on fire.

Speaking of wild lands, Chris took the field crew for a botanizing trip this week. This is Sarah, our summer field intern, and she and Susan, Chris and Shrek really enjoyed their morning looking at and identifying wildflowers.

We have been having a field intern help us in the summer seed crop season for the past couple of years, and so this year Sarah has joined us in that capacity. As part of our intern program here, we offer a weekly lesson on some topic relevant to plants and/or farming. This week it was wild plant id. Last week we talked about beneficial insects as part of our pest management program in our greenhouses, and the week before that we discussed how we co-exist here with all types of wildlife welcome (the benefits and the challenges wildlife can bring to our farm). We also had an herbal lesson on medicinal herbs and tincture-making today, so you can see that we talk about all sorts of things with our farm crew and these events are not just for the intern, but the whole crew gets involved and we all enjoy the sharing time very much.

Chris and Sarah have gotten the desert garden weeded and Chris will be putting in some new plants in this garden soon. The flower seed crop field is mostly planted with all the new young seed crops, and I’m headed out shortly as the temps start to cool off a little bit to start planting my food garden…woohoo!

Because it is extra warm, we are having to work extra hard to keep the water in our irrigation pond clean of algae. We do a few different things to help with this situation. We have a windmill that pumps air bubbles into the pond as a way to aerate the water and we put bales of barley straw in the water to help clean the water. Barley is antimicrobial and also acts as a natural anti-algae agent, so this makes a big difference. About 19 years ago, we introduced 5 grass carp to the pond as baby fish and now they are easily as long and big around as my leg. There are still five of them and they travel around in the pond eating algae and other plant material. They are vegetarians and infertile, so we started with 5 baby fish and now 19 years later we have 5 big fish. We fondly call them “the sharks”, but they are gentle creatures and very welcome here doing good work for this farm.

The fairy garden is looking good, as are the fruit trees. We will have a few apples and plums in our young orchard this year and the mature cherry and peach trees also have fruit. I’m very excited to have a tree fruit harvest this summer.

I’ll close for now. The gardens are beckoning and I must heed their call.