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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A look back at 2015

As 2015 comes to a close and we are getting ready to welcome 2016, It is time to look back on the year. 2015 was a year full of water issues, almond media attention, and of course lots of baby pictures as I watched my little almond farmer grow up. As I reflect on the year, I looked back on the most popular post and what it means for 2016.


This past year I did a number of different series that related to agriculture and awareness. The California Water Series I did lighted four different parts of water; conservation, almonds, agriculture production and how we got here. This series was aimed at helping people to understand the water issues and to put some truth out there during a time of information overload. And it turns out it was a hit with two of these posts being in my top 3 for the year!

#3 Most viewed: Why California grows so many almonds
California being so unique and special in our climate and soils I thought it was time to explain just why so many almonds are grown in California. I love that I live in such a diverse state that is able to specialize in so many crops. And of course, I love that almonds is one of those special crops that is able to thrive and be so productive here!

#2 Most Viewed: California Water #1: How we got here
The beginning of the water series was to help you understand California water. We are much different than other states and how our water is used and divided can be quite complex. I took this post as a way to understand the different uses of water; environment, urban and agriculture as well as understand the different means of water we use; state water project, central valley project and groundwater.

#1 Most viewed: California Water Part 3: Almonds and Water
I am glad that this post was my most viewed post of 2015. I think this is the best way to set the record straight on almonds and water. There was a lot of finger pointing and blame put on almonds in 2015 and it was not deserved. Almonds are a food and it takes water to grow food. Almonds are primarily only grown in California, so you will see a lot of trees across the state making them an easy target for water consumption. But once you start to look at the facts, you will start to understand the good that almonds do for California.

As I look back on these posts it makes me excited to see what is in store for 2016. This year, readers have really taken an  interested in education and learning just why things are done. I am hopeful that 2016 will be an even better year!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, December 21, 2015

Almond Giveaway #3

Christmas is 4 days way! And you know what that means.... It is time for Almond Giveaway #3!

If you have been following along on my holiday giveaway journey you know we have already given away TWO great almond packages. As a thank you to all my loyal readers and followers I wanted to give a little joy to your holiday season. Sadly, Christmas is fast approaching so this will be my final almond giveaway for this holiday season.

All you need to do to win is to share and comment on this post on Facebook. It is that easy!

So what exactly is in this last and final almond giveaways you ask? Well I wanted to do a combination of the past giveaways and make one bigger and grander giveaway!

Almond Giveaway #3
'Almond Inspirations' Cookbook: featuring great recipes for weekend brunch, sensational snacks, your casual table, cocktail party, decadent dinners, sweet treats and drinks.
'California Almonds' Grey size large sweatshirt
'California Almonds' baseball cap
4 California Almond tins: holding the perfectly proportional serving size of 23 almonds per tin.





Also, a big thank you to California Almonds for the great giveaway goods!

Don't forget to share and comment via Facebook this post to be entered to win!
Winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 23rd!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

John Deere Birthday

I can't believe it but my little almond farmer turned one! This year has flown by and I have no idea where the time went. It seems like yesterday I was trying to figure out this whole Mommy thing and now I have a one year old! I have to tell you, I do not miss those newborn nights though. I cherish my sleep and I am so glad my little man sleeps 12 hours through the night.

So, when I started planning his first birthday it was no question what the theme was going to be. John Deere is the nursery theme and he loves playing with tractors. Both the real ones on the farm and the toy ones in his room. I just had to do a John Deere Birthday Bash too!

First step was deciding on invitations, and man are there options. I had a hard time deciding but I settled with these cuties. I loved the verbiage and the design of course. The etsy shop was also really easy to work with.

Next, was decor. I wanted to keep it simple but theme oriented. I started by displaying pictures from the year throughout the house. We have a great photographer who captured his milestones at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. I displayed the pictures with clothespins hanging on twine.
The birthday Boy of course had to wear a festive shirt for the big day! I wanted something that he could potentially wear after this birthday too. I liked the tractor design and that it had the number 1 as well as the simplicity behind the design and it wasn't too showy.

The cake I was pretty excited about! I saw this done on Pinterest so I had to recreate it too. I gave a picture to our local bakery shop and I think they did a great job! When our little family of three went in to blow out the candles, our little man got a little excited and plowed his hand into one of the cupcakes. So, I decided that would be his cupcake to eat. He took no time at all to devour the whole cupcake. He doesn't like to use hands. He just puts his whole face into the thing. And it was gone in no time!!

Favors were the final detail. I wanted something for adults and kids alike. Since, there was only a handful of babies and kids present, we needed something everyone could enjoy. I had decided on a candy buffet that was of course all green and yellow candies. I printed up a cute little sticker for some sacks and it was all set! My parents brought the "Oh Henry" candy bars that made a great addition to the little man's celebration!
It was so much fun to plan this celebration for my little almond farmer. I just can't get over that he is already one. Before you know it, I will planning birthday bash #2...


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Almond Giveaway #2

Let the Almond Giveaways Continue...

To continue my appreciation to my loyal readers, followers and subscribers during this holiday season I will be giving away Almond Giveaway #2. We already gave away one awesome giveaway and there will be one more to come next week.

All you need to do to win is to  like and comment on this post on Facebook. It is that easy!

So is this giveaway the same this time around too? Nope!! Each giveaway is slightly different but all are almond themed of course! What exactly is in this almond giveaway you ask? 
Almond Giveaway #2
'California Almonds' Grey sweatshirt size large
'California Almonds' baseball cap
3 California Almond tins: holding the perfectly proportional serving size of 23 almonds per tin. Great for snacks!

Don't forget to like and COMMENT via Facebook this post to be entered to win! Winner will be announced on Friday, December 18th!



Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Almond Giveaway #1!

As a thank you to all my loyal readers and followers I wanted to give a little joy to your holiday season. As my Christmas gift to you, I will be having 3 Almond Giveaways! Yes, you read that right, I will be giving away 3 holiday almond packages!

All you need to do to win is to share and like this post on Facebook. It is that easy!

So what exactly is in my almond giveaways you ask? Well, each one is different and over and the course of the next couple weeks I will post each giveaway for your chance to win.

Almond Giveaway #1
'Almond Inspirations' Cookbook: featuring great recipes for weekend brunch, sensational snacks, your casual table, cocktail party, decadent dinners, sweet treats and drinks.
'California Almond' baseball cap
3 California Almond tins: holding the perfectly proportional serving size of 23 almonds per tin.

Don't forget to like and share via Facebook this post to be entered to win!Winner will be announced on Monday, December 14th.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, December 4, 2015

Farmers Never Stop Learning

As I pack to get ready for a week of conferences and travel, I started thinking of all the new information I was going to be learning this upcoming week. Along my way, I always tend to meet a random person in the elevator, at the coffee shop or hotel lobby wanting to know what all these farmers are doing at the convention center. People always seem to be interested when I tell them we are here to learn.

With any job or task a person sets out to accomplish, you tend to look for the most efficient way to do it. The same goes for farmers. We are always looking for the best and most efficient use of our time, resources and other inputs to get the greatest output. But how do farmers know the latest and greatest things to help them with their efficiency? We continue to educate ourselves.

It may be hard to believe but most farmers are not the uneducated, hillbilly, backwoods hicks that people tend to think of. Most farmers don't operate a tractor from the 1930's or use a horse and plow to work their land. Just like most other professions, farmers attend training, seminars, workshops and conferences to learn of the newest technologies and what's new on the market.

Just a couple weeks ago, I attended a local nut conference in which our day was filled with speakers discussing pest management, the newest pests to harm our industry, how to farm more with less water, and industry updates. At meetings such as this, farmers also have an opportunity to log hours. Yes, farmers have to attend a certain number of these seminars in a year to be able to spray their crops or handle any kind of pesticide or herbicide. My almond farmer husband is also a Pest Control Adviser, meaning he writes prescriptions for our almond trees when they need a little tender, love and care. But in order to know the best way to treat a sick tree or crop destroying pest, he has to attend meetings on the newest, most efficient and safest means to do so. There are a lot of larger companies, universities, and state agencies doing research for farmers. These agencies or private businesses are looking ahead at our problems and finding solutions. A small farmer of our size, doesn't have the time and resources for a trial and error on what works and what doesn't. So by attending these seminars we are able to learn what could work best for our farm by listening to these speakers and examining the data.

As a farmer it is in our best interest to continue to educate ourselves on the newest pest, the newest machinery, the market trends and the newest irrigation efficiency tool. By educating ourselves, farmers are able to stay in business and operate on less resources. California farmers are being provided less and less water every year. Without a steady snow in the mountains, rain in the valley and reservoirs to capture the water, California agriculture could be a thing of the past. As a farmer, it is our job to attend seminars and conferences to help us maintain a smart and dependable food supply.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Saying Goodbye to our Buddy

This was one of the hardest posts to write. I needed a full box of Kleenex by my side, but I made it through it. On November 14, our family lost a great man. Our patriarch, grandfather, great grandfather, farmer, neighbor, businessman, and all around great man passed away at the age of 94. Buddy, as he was referred to in our family, lived a fruitful and abundant life. He was always up to try new things, which was apparent by the 25 plus crops he had farmed over his life. He was a loving soul who cared for his family and friends with the biggest heart. Buddy was a great man, that we will miss.

Buddy was born at the old homestead house on the highway, that his father built when he settled in California in the early 1900's. Buddy was the youngest of six brothers. His poor mother wanted a girl so badly that she would dress him up in girl clothes and grew his hair long. But that didn't last long since Buddy wanted to always be farming and working the land with his father. He learned how to make wine at the age of 6 and yes that was during prohibition. He rented his first farmland while he was still in high school and couldn't wait to get home from the war to continue to farm. Farming was always his passion, but he knew he had to serve his country when World War 2 broke out. He saw things in Germany during the war that we can only pray we never have to see. He defended his country with pride and courage. He returned home to farm with his wife and soon added three children to the family.

Destined to be a gambler, being born on 10-11-21, 21 was of course his favorite card game, and farming just seemed to fit him. Of course there was bad years with cotton, melons and beans to name such a few. One year it made more money to let the sheep come eat his bell peppers then to harvest the field. But in the 1970s when he invested in almond trees, he knew it was the right decision. He was always willing to try something new and with farming he did just that. We can thank Buddy for the 4 fields of almonds in a row all with different varieties and combinations. He was ahead of his time, trying to figure out what worked and what didn't.

His son continues to run the farm today along with my almond farmer husband, it was 3 generations involved in the day to day dealings. Now it will be up to my little almond farmer son to continue the legacy that his Buddy created.

But I consider myself lucky to have entered into a family that has been carved and molded by such a great man. He built a farming legacy and tradition for the family to continue. It will be with great pride that we continue on his farm and raise the next generation in his footsteps. 

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Two years down...

Two years ago this blog was just an idea of mine. I had been thinking for quite sometime I needed a medium to share my story. I always knew I wanted to do something, create some place, find some way to reach a bigger community and touch more people than just in my day to day life. Then two years ago I finally took the plunge and created this blog.


I still remember, my almond farmer husband had just had foot surgery, so I had taken a week off work to take care of him. This gave me a lot of time to think and ponder what I was doing in my life. I had a fairly new job that allowed me to be quite independent and accomplish my duties at my pace. I was able to do more of what I wanted and get things done when it was more convenient for me and not necessarily during a set schedule. I thought this would be the perfect time to carve out my little blog and start with sharing our farm story.

Little did I know, this whole blogging thing could easily evolve into a full time job itself. I am so happy and grateful for the journey I have been on because of this. From starting a facebook page, instagram account and twitter dedicated to Almond Girl to attending media training, joining blogger groups and building relationships in the social media world. Blogging really has become a part of my life. I share with you all my life happening, what's going on with our farm, and of course a some nutty recipes. You have all been there when I announced I was having a baby, when we had to drill a new well because of the drought, you walked with me step by step for pollination, and you were patience with me when my little almond farmer arrived and I went on a blog break for a while. So many things have happened over the past two years and I am glad I was able to share with you it all!

It is hard to believe that I have been on this blog journey for two years now. I am so happy I took the plunge and am here today to share my story with you. Cheers to the past two years and many more to come!!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Banana Bread with Almonds

It is finally fall! I thought the weather was never going to change. Frankly, I was tired of short sleeves and 80 degree days. I am ready for sweaters and scarves! I joyfully welcomed the rain on Monday and the 60 degree days in my 10 day forecast. God know we need it and I hope the fall weather is here to stay. Let us all pray for snow in the mountains and rain the valley!

I don't know what it is about Fall but it always puts me in the mood for warm baked goods. Pies, cookies, and bread are my favorites for the nice cooler weather. Fresh from the oven is even better! There is just something about the fall weather and baking that put me in a better mood and ready for anything.



I don't know what it was about my bananas the other day, they all got ripe at the same time. Don't you hate it when that happens? But I couldn't just watch them get over ripe and I have enough frozen bananas in the fridge for smoothies. So, it was banana nut bread time! But this time around I couldn't find the walnuts, but I knew I had almonds around of course. I thought I would give it a try and I was pleasantly surprised that I love it with almonds. My little almond farmer son even enjoyed it and was inhaling the bread faster than I could put it on his plate. This was a thumbs up from my household. I hope you like it just as much!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Family, Life's Greatest Blessing

A couple weeks ago my little family was lucky to be able to head up to Chico to help my father with walnut harvest for the second year in a row. Last year, we went up for an extended weekend and this year we went up for a whole week! It was great to be able to spend that much time with my family and share in so many great moments. Living 5 hours away from my family is hard. My parents don't get to see my son but maybe once a month if we are lucky. So being able to spend a whole week with them was amazing. Not just for the memories, but of course we had to put my almond farmer to work during walnut harvest

My dad primarily farms walnuts now. Growing up it was mainly almonds but farming almonds for 40 plus years on the same soil, a lot of farmers switch crops for the third generation. Two generations of almond trees on the same soil can take up all the necessary nutrients and not be able to rebuild for a productive third generation. So my father started planting walnuts and now only has a small amount of almonds left. Walnuts thrive in Northern California. They like the cooler summer nights and the rainy winters. But because harvest is in October time, they cant have it rain too much until after harvest is complete.

Being that their harvest is much faster and is a quicker process we thought a week would be a good time to help with the bulk of things. Of course not everything goes as planned, things break, people run late, life changes paths on you, but it all worked out at the end. After spending a week with my family, we returned home to celebrate my husband's grandfather turn 94 years young. It was a great day filled with sunshine, family, pictures, food and laughter. It was an honor to see how much family came to love our Buddy on his special day. The memories and stories that he has been blessed with and to watch them continue on is a true
 blessing.

All these great family memories really got me thinking of all life's blessings. Family truly is a never ending, forever pouring, forever loving, memory making happiness. Sometimes we tend to take family for granted. You may get to see them every day, work with them, or live with them. But others don't get to share as many moments with their loved ones, sometimes though this makes the fewer moments that much more special.
My family in my parents walnut orchard pre baby

My Husband's side of the family in our almond orchard

It may not always be full of smiles and laughter, things may not always go according to plan. Your plan may literary get thrown out the window, but one thing is always there at the end of the day. Regardless of how crappy your day may have been, how many things may have broke down, how many holes you may have got stuck in, how many times you may have started over, family is always there. You may not always like them, you may not always agree with them, you may not always want to talk to them, but family will always love you. You may not always be there with them, you may be hundreds miles away, but family is always there for you. Life will throw you curve balls, life will take you for a roller coaster ride and you will end up not exactly where you thought. But it is those times we get to create memories with the ones we love that really matter. Family really is life's greatest blessing.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Almond Processor Tour

So did all my harvest pictures make you hungry for almonds? If you follow me on social media, you know it was busy, busy, busy! Harvest is such a great time of year because there is so much going on in the fields to capture. Almond harvest is complete now and it's time for a long nap!  The nuts have all left the fields and they are on their way to the consumers. There are multiple steps though the almonds must go through to get to the consumer. Last year, I took you all on a tour of an almond huller and sheller. The huller is the first stop the almonds take once they leave the field. After the almonds have been hulled and shelled the next stop is the processor.


I had the opportunity to tour a local processor in our area to see the next step. Supreme Almonds of California is a great processor that is right down the street from our farm and they just so happen to send local almonds all over the country and world. They are just one of many local processors that service our great industry.

bins of almonds arrive from the huller
First, Almonds come from the huller in large wooden boxes. The almonds first get sampled for the processor to keep a small sample of the condition the nuts came in like. They are also sampled at all stages for quality and safety at each step. Then, the almonds go through a series of sizing belts. The sizing belts separate any blemished nuts and then various different sizes are sorted into separate bins. The blemished nuts go to animal feed, or to further processing for almond butter or almond milk. The different sized almonds all have different uses. Small nuts may be used for candy or granola bars while the larger nuts may get used in trail mixes,snack packs or consumed in the natural state. All the different sizes of almonds have so many different uses that each buyer has a preference and desired size they are seeking for their specialty.

sizing cups separate the almonds
Each size is them poured into new bins

Hand sorting
Once the sizes are separated they are taken to hand sorters. The hand sorters remove any more blemished nuts and any debris that may have been missed. The hand sorted almonds are then run through a metal detector next to ensure any parts from the harvesting equipment or anything non natural is absent. I thought this was a pretty cool step. Especially during hunting season, we get a lot of hunters on our property and it's nice to know anything that isn't supposed to be in the nut is taken out.

Almonds are also pasteurized to ensure they are safe for human consumption and free from salmonella or any bacteria. The almonds then get bagged or boxed into the buyers preference and shipped all over the world.


The processor was great to see first hand. The care and handling these almonds go through is special. The hand sorters tend so delicately to ensure these are the best almonds being sent out. The almonds truly do look perfect when they get packaged to be shipped out. Almonds are now ready to eat! So go get them while they are fresh!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Farmers are gamblers

Farmers are gamblers. We all gamble every day and hope that we are profitable at the end of the year. We gamble with mother nature, politics, environmental changes, natural disasters, life events and the list could go on. There are a number of factors that go into making our farm successful that we have no control over. Water is the biggest gamble lately. But farmers still wake up every morning and tend to their fields with the same aspirations of making a living with a successful crop.

Almond farmers are no different. Our crop is very unique and depending on where you farm throughout the state, your challenges vary. Some farmers are doing better this year and have less water issues. Some farmers are hurting from water and have more challenges in their areas.

On our farm this year, our crop looks light. On our farm and in our area, the crop looks down roughly 15-20%.  Most varieties seemed to have fewer nuts than average this year. The amount of meat when compared to the hull and shell is also smaller, meaning the kernel itself is lighter. Both of these lead to smaller yield.

This year and the past couple years, our winters have been quite mild. Almonds require a certain amount of chill hours or cold temperatures to produce a nut. Without the required chill hours, the flowers are less frequent. With less flowers, there will be less nuts.  With too many nights above the threshold degrees and with too many warm days during winter months, the trees didn't know if it was winter or spring. Confused trees are stressed trees.

Considering our water situation and the increased costs of getting water, we all hope for more income coming in. But if the trees have been stressed and aren't getting as much water, I guess it is no surprise they didn't produce as well. It is just a roll of the dice.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why California grows so many almonds

Over the past several months, there has been quite the finger pointing and blame on agriculture for water use. Farmers have been depicted as an evil villain. Almonds specifically are being targeted and shamed. I find it odd that farmers are being blamed for water use. Not just because I am a farmer, but because I am a consumer. And last time I checked, so was everyone else. We all consume the food that farmers grow. But instead of thanking the farmers for growing our food, we are blaming them for using too much water. Suddenly, everyone is now an expert on farming and think they all know best on what inputs crops need.

In most articles and stories I have read over the past several months, farmers aren't even given a chance to defend ourselves or provide our side of the story. Honestly, I am tired of defending myself and why almond farmers use water. Everything uses water, all food needs water to grow, all people need water to live, all organisms need water to thrive. We all may be a little wasteful from time to time, but no one is pumping water just for the fun of it. I guess that's what I don't understand. Do these blammers actually believe farmers are just wasting water for the heck of it? We pay for our resources, we pay for resources we don't receive,
we eat our crops, we sell our crops to make a profit. Why would we be wasteful?

Farmers have turned to all types of irrigation efficiency models to help them cut back on water usage.To be honest, we have to. And we had to invest in it a long time ago. Those that didn't look at water efficiency years ago, aren't around today. They ran out of water, lost their crops and aren't able to farm anymore.

But I am tired of telling this story again and again. We farm to feed people. We grow the crops we grow, because they are best suited for our land. Some think California shouldn't even be growing almonds in the first place. We are a desert, a desert shouldn't be growing food. Some say, they are going to boycott California food all together. I would tell them they need a lesson in California agriculture. Well let me educate you on why California is home to 99% of all almonds grown in the United States and 85% of all almonds grown in the world. 

California is home to one of the few Mediterranean climates in the world. Well, you know how everyone likes to visit California for the sunny weather and mild cool winters? That is the same reason almonds like it here too. California's Central Valley generally have mild winters with foggy days allowing trees to reach dormancy periods and enjoy a winter rest. But these trees can't be too cold for too long because they bloom in early February and wake up for spring. I don't think almonds would like the cold mid western snowy winters or the blizzards of the North East. The California mild winters are perfect for them.

It isn't just the California winter that is pleasing to almonds though. The California summers are hot and sunny allowing the almonds plenty of days to produce almonds in the sunshine. Almonds enjoy the sun, but it is gets too hot it will roast the almonds, so those Arizona 120 degree days would kill an almond tree. Trust me, I had a cousin in Bullhead City try to grow a few almonds trees a couple years ago....they didn't last through the summer. California summers are such right!

California is lucky to have the perfect combination of mild winters and dry summers to help almonds thrive. We are blessed to be able to find such a great fit for almonds to grow in. Other countries have tried and while some other Mediterranean countries are able to produce almonds, none do it quite as well as California. So let me know how easy it is for you to find those non-California almonds. You will be searching for a long, long time.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Almond Meltaway Cookies

These adorable little boys agreed to be guest bloggers for these amazing almond meltaway cookies they baked. I happen to be friends with their aunt who is an avid baker and lover of all things almonds. No, I would say that is an understatement, she is a quite the expert baker. She is known for baking cakes just because or fixing up a plate of macaroons on a random night. She loves to be in the kitchen. So, when I saw that she was teaching her nephews how to bake and to use almonds as the ingredients, I just had to feature these cuties!

The boys loved to make these cookies but they might have enjoyed decorating them even more! These tasty cookies were decorated with brightly colored almond frosting, blanched and whole almonds as well as the ever-popular "we need more!" rainbow sprinkles! Because let's be honest, we all need more sprinkles in our lives!

These cookies have great flavor thanks to the almond extract in the cookie dough as well as frosting, making them extra nutty! Who doesn't love an extra almond punch in their delicious cookies? This recipe is also great for kids because you don't have to refrigerate it before you use it. No more waiting to roll out the dough, which means you can enjoy them quicker!

So, what are you waiting for...

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, August 28, 2015

Farmers and Technology, they do go hand in hand

Farmers aren't always looked at as the ones with the newest ipad or the coolest tablet. You generally won't see farmers bragging about how they reached a new high score on their trendy cell phone game. Farmers aren't usually the ones you think of to have the newest technology. But farmers and technology do go hand in hand. Some may think that farmers aren't always up on the newest gadgets or tech trends, but now a days they have to be. Farmers are turning to technology to help them be more sustainable and efficient in their usages.


Farmers all around are turning to web based software to help them understand their farms needs more. Some farmers are using drones to get a more real time picture of their fields. The birds eye view a drone can capture will outline how the soil types vary across a field. Farmers use this to help with better utilization of  nutrients and fertilizers in trouble areas of their fields. Drone are helpful to see what isn't visible to us as we walk through a field.

On our farm we use probes to help us see beneath the soil. We have probes at three different levels through the root zone measuring moisture intake. Probes help us to know at what levels our roots are thirsty and at what levels they are saturated. The probe readings are registered to a data box in our field and taken via cell service to our account at the web based program. We are able to access these readings online or better yet, through an app on our phone.
Water data box in our field

Colored flags mark the different root zone meters

When a reading comes to our phone it looks like this graph. The red line is the deepest, green in the immediate and blue is shallow areas of the root zone being measured. When water runs through the root zones at the various levels, the lines fall. As we irrigate, the moisture levels rise as the pressure to remove water goes down. When the lines are at the top of the graph the roots are using the most effort to take in water, and as they fall the water becomes more readily available to that root zone. You can see as we irrigate (the purple box) how the water moves from zone to zone. When the line is in the aqua rectangle it is the optimal moisture content levels, the roots are neither thirsty or saturated. This occurs just after irrigation is complete. You can see when the blue line is saturated, the green and red and beginning to work less for their water. As the red moves in the blue rectangle zone, all levels are receiving water most efficiently.

We use this system to help us know when to turn on and off our irrigation systems. We are able to accurately know how much water is being used by each root zone. When our roots are working efficiently, then our trees are producing a crop at the most efficient rate. If our trees were stressed, they would be either working over time to get enough water.

We have all had to learn how to be the most efficient and effective with our resources, especially during drought times. As water becomes more and more scarce and farmers are looking for ways to best manage what they have, this tool is just another asset to add to our belt.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Drought slowing us down...again

We are in full swing of almond harvest on the farm. Shaking, sweeping, picking up and hauling the crop away to the huller. There is a lot going on out on the farm lately. But one thing is slowing all of us almond farmers down. It's this dang drought again, it seems to keep popping up in new ways. Our orchard rows have too much debris, the wood chips and dirt are slowing things down for the pick up machines and even at the huller.

So if you remember, when we have dead branches or prunings from our trees, we chip them up and add them back into the soil. This process helps keep those nutrients in the orchard and usually helps with rebuilding the soil. Well, because we have had very little rain in this drought, these wood chips haven't had enough time to breakdown into the soil. Our irrigation is even less than usual since we don't have any federal or state water on our farm, so we aren't able to irrigate as much as we'd like. All these factors lead to these wood chips and debris still in large forms on the orchard floors.

When our sweepers sweep the almonds into rows for the pick up machine, the debris is being gathered up with the almonds. This is causing the pick up equipment to move slower through the fields. We aren't able to separate the almonds from the chips in the field so we are hauling everything off the huller as is. When these loads arrive at the huller, it is an even slower process there trying to separate everything out. The huller is getting backed up, and accumulating their own garbage piles of these chips. 

We aren't the only growers experiencing this mess. With lack of rain and insufficient irrigation water, many growers are in the same situation. Harvesters and hullers alike are being slowed down, costing us all more money, trying to turn out a crop. That's the thing with droughts, they seem to always have side effects that you don't think of or realize until it's too late. This time of year is the most important for us, we wait all year for this. It's simple really, farmers need water. If we don't get it, we will continually have these set backs and side effects hurting us from being as efficient and effective as possible.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Shake, Rattle and Roll

It's time to shake, rattle and roll on the farm! It's officially almond harvest time and that means we are busy, busy getting everything moving. We have waited all year for these next couple months. Although we don't have as much of a crop on the trees as we would like, we are happy to have a crop to be harvesting. With the drought this year, our trees are water stressed causing them to be early. Our crop is usually harvested beginning or middle of August and for the second year in a row we started July 28th! The trees are ready to go early because they haven't had enough water and it forced their crop to come off early.

On Monday, we started mowing the orchards clean of weeds and debris off the orchard floor.  You need a clean floor for the nuts to have space to dry out. When we picked up the nuts, we don't want to pick up a lot of weeds or debris with them or else we get marked down at the huller.

On Tuesday, we started shaking! Shaking is the most exciting part of harvest for me. We get to watch the crop shake off the tree and make an almond blanket all over the floor. We started with Nonpareil, the earliest and most widely grown variety. We have the most acreage of this variety, so we will be shaking it for awhile before we move on to the others. So if you wonder what we are up to on the farm, we will be shaking!!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, July 27, 2015

The calm before the storm

I've been quiet in the social media and blogging world over the last couple months. I do have a good excuse though. Our family has taken some much needed vacations! We call it the calm before the storm. Our chance to unwind, relax and take in the views. All before the storm of harvest is about to begin this week! Every one needs a little time to calm yourself and regroup. This is just what our little family has been doing, and man did we enjoy ourselves!
Earlier in June, we were lucky enough to go to Kauai with my parents, sister and her family. It was great that we were blessed to have the chance to go. Living 5 hours from my family, we don't see them too often. So, I was looking very forward to spending a week with them all. I was a little nervous to fly with our then 6 month old baby. But he was a trooper and did a great job! I was so proud of him and the 6 hour flight.
I originally thought a week in Kauai would be so long and we wouldn't have enough to keep us busy. But, man was I mistaken. We didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted to. We enjoyed a Luau, sunset dinner cruise, drove up the Waimea Canyon,  relaxed on Poipu Beach, went shopping, toured the Kauai Coffee Plantation, road the train about Kilohana Plantation followed by rum tasting of Koloa Rum. We were busy all right, and not to mention the house we stayed at had great views and pool all while being ocean front! Ocean front homes are the way to enjoy a Hawaii vacation while traveling with a large group. Having 6 adults, 2 kids and a baby I would highly recommend staying in a house. The house gave us the opportunity to all be together and have private space in the same residence.
Kauai was a beautiful island to explore. It was lush and green everywhere without being too rainy or humid. There were great hiking trails for the adventure type, shopping for the laid back and a great view for everyone. It was my first time in Kauai and I will definitely go back.

While it was our first time in Kauai, we are no strangers to Pismo Beach.  Pismo Beach, Ca is right in our backyard about 2 hours west from our farm and home. My almond farmer and I actually went to college and met about 15 miles north of Pismo Beach at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. We love it there and always have a nice relaxing time. Every year though, my husband's family and three other families sync our schedules and enjoy 10 days together at the beach. That's right, about 40 people together for 10 days. We are spread out over 4 houses, but manage to join forces for dinners and beach time. Pismo was about 30 degrees cooler than our nice warm Central Valley, so needless to say it was a great escape from the heat. Since we are so familiar with the area we didn't need to go exploring. We made sure to stop at our favorite restaurants, shop our favorite locations and even enjoyed a concert night out! Relaxing by the ocean was a great calm before the storm.

Coming home yesterday, we were greeted by 97 degree weather, trees that needed to be harvested and a pile of laundry that exploded from our suitcases. We were blessed this summer with some great vacations to help us relax before the storm of harvest starts this week!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Changing paths, changing job titles

Everyone has a direction in life, a path to follow, an idea of what makes them happy. For the past several years I have been working for corporate agriculture companies, following a path I thought was one that made me happy. That's the interesting thing about paths, sometimes they fork, split, dead end, back up, jump forward, or fall off a cliff. There is only one person in life that truly knows where your path is going and we won't meet him the journey ends.  We just have to go with the path and take what bumps come forward.

Over 7 months ago my path turned, it brought me to this new path that I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do. When my little son was born, my life changed drastically. It wasn't just me and my husband anymore, there was this little man that depended on me, he needed me and what I didn't know was that I need him too. It's strange to think that you can go so long in life just happy and content, but when children are born they make it more complete.

After spending 3 months at home with my little man during my maternity leave from work, I quickly realized I couldn't leave this little guy to return to work. My employer was very generous and granted me a very generous maternity leave. I couldn't leave them after they giving me 4 months off. I was a career women. I wanted to move up in the world. I wanted to make my own money. I wanted to make a difference.

Well, I will still make a difference. I will still move up in the world and I will be a career women. I may not make my own money but being a mother to this little guy would be the most rewarding job I could have. I decided I needed to go back to work and give it a try though. Since my employer was so generous to give me four months off, the least I could do for them was give it a try. So there I was working full time and being a mommy full time. Luckily, my job allowed me a home office from the beginning, so getting adjusted to baby hours and work hours was a little easier. But my job was on the road 30% plus of the time. Those week long business trips and flights halfway across the country to the main office seemed harder and harder to make. I gave it a shot, I tried 2 months of this balancing act. But it wasn't long that I realized the only job I wanted was being a mommy. I packed up my belonging from my work truck, visited my favorite growers to tell them goodbye and set up an out of office for the last time. It was time for me to change my job title.

It is one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life, but also one of the most rewarding. For the last few months I have been a mommy full time and nothing else. Well, who am I kidding, I have now become a lunch delivery service, parts runner, errand girl, baby food maker, and so much more. Not too mention all the other boards and committees I already sit on and don't want to give up.  But at the end of the day, being a mommy is the best job I didn't know I wanted! Being able to see all those 'firsts' is the most beautiful thing. I can't even imagine not being there to see all his life moments take place. My new path of motherhood is going to be the best journey I could ever ask for!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, June 26, 2015

Worries for the future

Almond harvest is just around the corner. Hull split is here and the countdown to harvest is officially on. Hull split is pretty early this year, about 2 weeks earlier than normal. Last year, we had hull split at the end of June and we thought it was pretty early then and this year is turning out to be even earlier than last year.  

Why are the nuts earlier? Well, with the drought getting worse and worse our trees are more and more water stressed. When the trees don't get enough water, they don't produce as well and could even die from too little or no water.

With the low amounts of water we have, irrigation is harder and harder to do effectively.  Our trees are being cut back. In fact, all farmers are cut back to a zero allocation of surface water from federal water projects. The state is implementing regulations to monitor groundwater pumping, an ever more necessary resource to agriculture production. With the threat of limiting our pumping from our own supply under our own soil, farmers are scared to know what they will have left to irrigate with.

So with all of the water problems farmers face this harvest has become exceptionally important for so many us. We must be able to harvest all we can and hope for good yields and prices. For many farmers, if the trees don't produce well they will have to taken out or just barely grown for the following year. Permanent crops are different than vegetable and field crops, we can't just stop irrigating them this year and plant a crop next year to make money. If we don't irrigate well this year, our trees will suffer and could die, which leaves us several years of recovery time to plant a new orchard or rehabilitate an existing.

With hull split starting our countdown to harvest, farmers are preparing for a harvest they hope will pay the bills and bring them some profit. Expenses are adding up more and more for farmers in times of drought. With increased water costs for decreased water supply it is getting harder and harder to predict the future of farming in California.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Father's Day with four generations

Father's Day is a day to honor our special men in our lives. Whether that be your husband, dad, grandpa, great grandpa, uncle, or special figure. This Father's Day was extra special in our home this year. My son was able to celebrate with his dad, grandpa and great grandpa. Having four generations with the last name is definitely a special treat for all of our family.
4 generations celebrating together
Our day was filled with little man giggles and chatterbox talking. Let me tell you that giggle is contagious! Once he starts everyone laughs at how sweet and precious he is, then he gets going louder and then we just can't stop!  But what really gets me, is that big ole smile when he looks at his great grandpa and they lock eyes! It truly is a special gift that we all get to witness.
We are lucky that my husband and I live about 4 houses down from his grandpa so our little man gets to spend time with his 'big buddy' very conveniently. My husband always called his grandpa 'buddy' growing up. He grew up riding with his buddy out to the farm while his dad was working and after awhile his grandpa told him he liked being his 'farming buddy'. Well I guess my husband liked it and kept calling his grandpa 'buddy'. It stuck and now we refer to great grandpa as 'big buddy' to our little man.
It's very unique that four generations live so close these days. Most families are spread apart and living all over. Take my side of the family for example. My family farms 300 miles away. Our Father's Day consisted of a FaceTime chat with my dad in the morning followed by a FaceTime chat with my grandparents in the afternoon. Having all these generations around for our little man to see really is fun. Twenty years ago, I couldn't see my grandparents if they weren't in the same town. Oh modern technology, you make these so easy. Just how did we ever survive before? It sure was great to be able to celebrate our special men in our lives.

Happy Fathers Day to all those special men in our lives, near and far!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Walnut Zucchini Muffins

I have a secret I have to admit. When it comes to baking, my favorite nut is walnut. I have to support the walnut farmers too, my father is a walnut farmer after all. Besides the bags of almonds piled in my freezer, I do have a large stash of walnuts as well. So when it comes to baking, I pull out the walnuts and get my fix!
During summer we usually have an abundance of zucchini from the garden or they are readily available at the grocery store. My favorite thing to do with zucchini is bake muffins! My least favorite thing to do with zucchini is grate them though. Unfortunately, you will have to grate and drain the zucchini for this recipe. Besides that, they are pretty easy and super moist. They get to be so moist by using the Greek yogurt and all the eggs. And that's why I love them! I hope you do too!

Almond Girl Note Added 7/16/16: So today I made these again and used convection bake and they cooked so much faster...25-30 minutes and they are soo delicious still! 

super easy batter
Ready to enjoy!
 Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Almond Pesto

It's officially summer. We hit 100 degrees this weekend and it was brutal! With the onset of summer though, comes garden veggies. I have to admit I love growing my own garden and eating the rewards of what we grow. Sadly, because of the drought we cut back our garden to the essentials. Just tomatoes, peppers, and basil this year. We also have an amazing rosemary plant that keeps coming back every year bigger and bigger. Oh, I love our Rosemary bush!
But today we are talking basil. I love basil and trying to add it to anything to add a little zip! But basil is best for making pesto of course. Pesto traditionally uses pine nuts, but those things are so expensive and when almonds are much more readily available why not use almonds! I use whole almonds as well, they are cheaper than sliced or diced and the food processor can handle the little extra work. This recipe for almond pesto is pretty easy and fast. I love being able to throw everything in the food processor and letting it do all the work. Who wants to chop everything anyways? Try it, you won't remember what pine nuts are for anymore.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, May 25, 2015

John Deere Nursery

Being that my son is almost 6 months this post is well over due! When we bought our house almost 5 years ago there was wallpaper in just about every room. Since I'm not an 80 year old women, we took it all out and painted every room. When it came time to paint the 'office' my husband joked to pick a neutral color because this would some day be a baby nursery. We picked yellow  five years ago. But when we found out we were having a boy I told him I wanted a blue room. He wasn't joking, we'd had enough painting and the now nursery was going to stay yellow.
So what theme was I going to pick for my baby boy with a yellow room? Growing up on a farm and marrying a farmer made picking a nursery theme pretty easy to me. I knew it was going to be farm related somehow. Yellow room, farm related, what theme would I choose? John Deere of course!
Looking around on Pinterest and etsy started my JD theme craze. Whoever invented those websites was half genius half devil. They trap you with all kinds of cute ideas and then when you realize you don't have the time to DIY them yourself, you just buy them!
So I started with the crib set and drapes that to me just resembled farmers button up shirts. I wanted something country, but not western and something timeless in case I wanted to reuse for the next child. I loved this pattern, I fell in love when I first say it. And I have to add the drapes are black out, which is extremely helpful for nap time! Next of course, I needed to add his name to a wall. Because you know, he is totally going to know it's his name! Well maybe not for the first couple years, but it's cute! I loved the tractor and name stickers that I found on Etsy, it just helped seal the deal! Our crib and changing table were the set I used when I was a baby that my parents kept. I blogged about what I had redone.


Every kid and baby needs a book collection. And props to my sister for my collection. At a baby shower she hosted she had everyone bring a book instead of a card for me little man to start his book collection. and what else, but lots and lost of farm themed books to make our JD nursery complete. Toy tractors are always a must for any little farmer kid to have. I found this cute pillow at a dinner silent auction and of course I had to have it. My very talented mom and friend made adorable quilts to add to the JD theme as well. My mom used my husband and mine old jeans to add to the JD fabric making this quilt very special.

These tractor pictures were also another great ETSY find. They were great because there weren't just photos, or drawings, they were a little childish to me. Added some cheap frames and they were perfect! I love how they tied the whole nursery together.
Now my little man has the cutest and most perfect John Deere Nursery!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl