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Showing posts from 2014

My Daddy

Dad. Father. Papa. The one who holds the family together. Patriarch. Leader. Bear hugger. Most memorable laugher. Teacher of life lessons. The one who taught me to drive. Passion instiller. Farmer. Daddy. 

Dads are one of the most important people in our lives. My Dad meant so much to me. He was the reason I am who I am today. I remember from a young age farming with my dad. Driving around with him checking fields. I even had a small table in his office at the farm that I pretended to work just like him. He taught me so much about agriculture. He is the reason I love agriculture and farming. He gave me my passion for agriculture. He was so proud that my sister and I wanted to be involved in agriculture too. But he hated that I went to school so far away. And even though I didn’t come home to farm with him as planned, I married an almond farmer who he loved as his own son. 


It pains me to write about my Dad in past tense. There will be no more memories and future planning with my Dad. My…

Highlights of 2014

2014, you have been good to me! It has been a great year filled with new beginnings, adventures and of course new life. Looking back on the year only makes me look forward to what else is in store for me next year. If you follow me on social media, this week we looked back on the most popular blog posts of 2014. Here are my top three most viewed blogs of 2014.

 #3: Almond Huller & Sheller. I took you guys on a tour of our almond huller and sheller for a chance to peak into how almonds are prepped for processing. It was a first hand look at taking the hulls and shells off the almond and exposing the meat to be processed for consumption.

 #2: Almond Varieties. In this blog post I explained the many different varieties of almonds and the many different uses of this varieties. Many consumers don't stop to think about the many different kinds of almonds and what the farmer grows those for. Just like an apple, each kind of almond has a distinct flavor and complex characteristics. E…

Our Christmas Gift Came Early!

So it's been over two weeks since my last post because we have been quite busy off the farm...

Our little almond farmer arrived on December 6th! Little Henry was born at 11:48pm after only about 5 hours of labor. I am so happy and blessed that it was a very short labor because I don't think I could have handled any longer. I do not do pain very well! He was 7lbs 5oz and 20 1/2 inches long. When my almond farmer husband was born he was 10 pounds, so needless to say I was very excited my little boy was 7 lbs!

We are so happy to have our little boy here to celebrate the Christmas season with! We couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift!

From our family to yours, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year. May all your celebrations this season be filled with love and happiness!




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Sealing an Almond Tree

After almond harvest and when the trees have gone dormant, we put our doctor hats on to see if we have any sick trees that need mending. Winter is a great time to repair any trees and general maintenance around the farm.

When almonds are too green, the almonds aren't dried enough to shake off the tree with ease. The almonds will hold on to the tree branches because there hasn't been enough moisture released. Some trees may be younger than the majority of the orchard causing them to mature differently and not be as ready for harvest when the rest of the field is.

When either one of these happens the shaker operator may have to shake the tree longer than expected to get all the almonds off. This may cause the bark to loosen and fall off exposing the trunk of the tree. If the trunk of the tree has too much moisture the bark will loosen making it easier to fall off as well.

The bark falling off reduces the amount of water and nutrients flowing through the tree. The tr…

Pumpkin Bars with Almond Crust

Are you all recovered from your turkey comas? If you are like our family, you are still recovering from all the food you ate on Thanksgiving. If you also like me, you may have a heap of leftovers and looking to reinvent them to make something new. Well I bought a 30 oz can of pumpkin not knowing that my recipe only called for 15 oz of pumpkin. So, if you still have some pumpkin in your fridge or maybe you didn't get your pumpkin fix and you want more! Here is a simple and easy pumpkin bar recipe and what else but almond crust. Note: I didn't add the dates the first time I made this, and it really does need that extra sweetness of the dates.



Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Giving my Baby Crib new life

Let me start off by saying that I love antiques and any furniture with a story. Most of my house is furniture that my almond farmer or I have inherited from family members that have gone before us, or we have bought at estate sales or antique shops, or just thought they looked old. When I was thinking of baby furniture for our little almond farmer, I wanted to keep with the same trend and look for something that had the antique look. Being that my father keeps everything, I wasnt surprised to find out that my parents still had the crib and changing table that I used. I knew I wanted it, so I asked my Dad to pull it down from the old shop shelves and see what condition it was in.

So, my Dad sent me the pictures of what it looked like and it did bring me back to the childhood. Not because I could remember sleeping or getting changed, but because they screamed 80's to me. I was born in the 80's and the old oak color was a sure sign that these pieces needed some updating. After so…

Blog Anniversary!

One year ago today, I started this blog. Wow, I can't believe it's been a year already since I started this journey! Time sure has flown by and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have learned a lot over the last year about blogging, who follows me, what to write about, and even our very own farm. I continue to learn as well from you guys out there and I do have to admit that I have loved every moment!
I have learned that my thoughts are most definitely not that only way of doing things. I need to always keep an open mind. It is important to give my perspective but to also think of how my words may come off to someone else. I have learned to always hear the other person out.

I have learned that things I think of as normal farming practices may be totally unknown to others. It has been eye opening for me to share the smallest happenings on our farm and to get comments from others on how I have educated them. It has taught me to not be afraid to share our story.

I …

Banana Almond Smoothie

I am getting closer and closer to my due date with our little almond farmer! With my nearing due date though comes more and more cravings for anything sweet. Being that I feel like I have gained a hundred pounds though, I am searching for something sweet that isn't terrible for me. If you have read any of my recipe or food posts, you know by now that I like to experiment and can't follow a recipe if my life depended on it. So I tried this smoothie/ milkshake concoction and really liked it. Of course you can substitute almond milk for regular cow milk and almond butter for peanut butter. My almond farmer said he thought he was drinking an almond milkshake. It hit my sweet craving and now that I am telling you all about it, I think I am going to go make it right now.... Hope you like it!





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Farming couple confronts drought challenges

My almond farmer and I were honored to be featured in a California Farm Bureau Federation series article entitled 'Young Farmers & Ranchers, Making it Work'. We had a great experience being interviewed and photographed for the piece. You never really think what you do is something special, until someone else tells you so and wants to spotlight in. I was asked by some of my blog readers to post the article so they could view it. It was printed in the October 22nd Ag Alert newspaper, to have access and the original article you can become a member of the California Farm Bureau Federation. 

Fourth-generation farmers Tim and Jenny Holtermann, who work at the family almond farm and custom harvesting business in Wasco, have a passion for agriculture they say it is the product of each being raised on a family farm.
It is this passion that fuels the young couple as they contend with challenges brought by the multi-year drought. While they were able to get through this year, …

Pumpkin Pie Almonds

I enjoy a handful of almonds multiple times throughout my day. I keep a dish in my kitchen full of them, so when I walk through to the back yard or to take something out for dinner, I am always munching on almonds. It got me thinking, how do others eat almonds? I prefer my almonds raw, straight from the tree. But since I can't get those but once a year, I have to eat them other ways. I love the taste of just a raw almond, something about the purity and untouched almond that makes it so good. I know my parents prefer them roasted in the oven with a little garlic salt, which is also good but perishable. I have a great party nut recipe I like to enjoy around game days and party times.

There have been lots of recipes floating around for seasonal spiced things as well, which always gets me into the holiday spirit. So I decided to give one a try, and of course put my own spin on it. Since it is Halloween, I tried a pumpkin pie spice almond recipe and it does taste like I am eating a pum…

After harvest clean up, Leveling the rows

Now that almond harvest is over, it is time to get our fields back in shape. It is what we call orchard maintenance time of year or after harvest clean up. Oh the life of a farmer, they never stop! During harvest, the picking up equipment will leave behind humps in the orchard rows. When the picking up machine picks up the almonds, part of the process is to leave the extra dirt in the field as a dirt mound. This process helps maintain the top soil in the field, and the more dirt we take out of the field and put in the trailers the more expensive trucking and hulling charges can be. The mounds in the middle of the rows will cause the tractors and equipment to travel through the field unevenly. This can be an extra problem for the flood irrigated and older orchards where the mounds could cause uneven water distribution. If the dirt mounds are left in the field until next harvest this could cause us to pick up even more dirt with the almonds next year.
We try to take care of …

Walnut Harvest

Because farmers never rest and my almond farmer doesn't take a break after almond harvest, we went up to Chico to help my dad with walnut harvest. And the most important thing, my little almond farmer growing in my tummy needed some baby gear from my family baby shower!
My dad started walnut harvest a little over a week ago. Walnut harvest is very similar to almond harvest. Walnuts are grown on the tree in a green round hull surrounded by a shell and the walnut meet is the seed, very similar to the almond. When the hull is cracked open and starts to separate from the shell, the walnut is ready to be harvested. Walnuts are shaken off the tree with the same shakers we use in almonds. The walnuts are sweeped and picked up just like almonds. But instead of waiting a week or so to pick up the dried almonds, walnut must be picked up from their wind-rows and arrive at the huller within twenty four hours! Walnut meat and shells will darken in color the longer they sit on the…

Almond by-products

When people think of almond uses they tend to just think of using the almond meat. Almonds have multiple by-products actually. When almonds are processed at the huller the almond meat is separated from the hull and shell. The hulls, shells and hash are also sold and used.

Almond hulls are the green out most layer of the almond while on the tree. The hull is what splits and starts the countdown to harvest. Once the almond has dried in the field, the hull also dries and begins to separate from the almond. At the huller, they remove the hulls and stock pile them until sold. Almond hulls are sold for animal feed, most commonly dairy feed. The hulls actually add nutrition to the animals diet and aid in healthy milk production. Growing up on my family's farm, we used the hulls to feed our breeding sheep. It was cheaper than grain, helped to add nutrition to the animal diet and while filled them up faster.

Almond shells are the hard layer between the hull and the almond meat. …

Almond Huller & Sheller

Our almond huller is running in full swing, so I thought I would go and check it out! We belong to a cooperative huller, meaning the farmers who use its services own an interest in the huller.  A select few farmers who are members of the cooperative are also elected on the board of directors. Most of the hullers in our southern Central Valley region of California are cooperatives. We also have a few large corporations and small growers in our region that operate private hullers as well.

The huller has received over half of all almonds that it will this year, but some have to wait in stock piles to be run at a later date. When the farmer is done harvesting and picking up the almonds from the field, they haul them to the huller in semi truck trailers. When the trucks arrive, the almonds are weighed and either sent to be processed or stock piled until the huller can run them. They fumigate and tarp the stock piles to keep the almonds safe from any insects or rain that may h…

Falling Ground Water Table

We lost suction on one of our agriculture wells. The ground water table has dropped below where our pump was set. So, when we turned on our pump to irrigate our orchard, it was pumping air instead of water. We had to have the well maintenance company pull the well out of the ground and inspect the pump to determine the cause of lose of suction. It was determined our pump was too short for where the water table had fallen. Now, we have to extend the pump at least 40 feet further down, so we can pump from the water table. We hope that this will work and we will be able to pump water again.

Because of the drought, we have neighbors all around us drilling new wells. Farms are also pumping more from existing wells because we can't draw from federal or state water. Both these factors cause a greater dependency on ground water, causing our water table to fall deeper.  
Pray for Rain!!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Almond varieties

Did you know there are over 30 different varieties of almonds grown commercially?! All have their own unique purpose, size, and shape. Most almond farmers, have multiple varieties in the same orchard, the most popular being nonpareil. Nonpareil is the prettiest almond, most widely produced and comes with the biggest return back to the grower. But we can't all farm nonpareils, they need to be pollinated somehow. Almonds typically need at least two varieties in an orchard because the almond flower cannot pollinate itself like other fruit trees can. We learned about that with the almond bloom and bee blog!! So we have pollinator varieties that complement other varieties and offer their own unique purpose. I am going to outline a few of the more widely grown varieties for you, but feel free to check out The Almond Board of California's full guide.


Nonpareil has the most uses and purposes of any other nut. It can be used in raw form, blanched, processed or anything you …

Irrigating during harvest

In our orchards we have multiple varieties of almonds. These varieties mature and harvest at different times throughout the harvest season. We start with nonpareils, the most popular, most produced and most widely used variety. But a field of nonpareils most often has one or two other varieties that aren't ready to harvest for a couple weeks to a month later. When we flood irrigated, we weren't able to irrigate any of the orchard until the harvest was complete on the entire orchard.  If we chose to flood irrigate, the orchard rows would be too wet and the machinery would get stuck. The weeds would also start to grow in the middle of the rows, making it difficult for the machinery to pick up the almonds.

Now that we drip irrigate our fields, we are able to harvest and irrigate at the same time. The drip hose is delivering water directly to the base of the tree roots, with only a small portion of the water staying on the surface of the ground. We are able to shake o…

Sweeping and picking up almonds

It's been about 2 weeks since we started almond shaking on the farm. We gave the almonds plenty of time to dry out and get most of the moisture out.
Now, it's time to sweep them. A sweeper machine runs through the tree rows and moves the nuts into a neat row down the middle of the orchard.  First, the sweeper blows nuts from one side of the tree line to the other. Then, the sweeper drives the opposite way through the field moving the nuts into a row. These rows make it possible for the pick up machine to come through and pick up the almond piles without running them over. 


The pick up machine is pulled behind a tractor and has an almond cart behind it. When the tractor drives over the almond rows the pick up machine scoops up the almonds, leaving behind the dirt and other debris, and drops the nuts into the almond cart. When the almond cart is full of almonds, another machine called a shuttle comes behind it in the orchard.  The almond cart empties into the shuttl…

Almond Shaking

It's raining almonds! Literally! We started shaking our almond trees this week, officially starting almond harvest. We wait all year for this time to come and it's here. It will be a busy next couple of months that will set the future for our orchards. Based off orchard production we will decide which orchards may be approaching their end of life, which orchards will finally produce a crop and which orchards we need to use better farming practices on next year.

Almond harvest is early this year due to the drought and a combination of warmer weather we had during winter and spring months and the hot temperatures we have had this summer. We have had three hot spells this summer with 10 plus days of over 100 degree temperatures. When we do cool down, it is usually only to a low of 95 for our day temperatures. Historically, almond harvest starts in our area the beginning of August, so we are roughly 7-10 days early on our farm. Some almond farmers near the Interstate 5 grape…