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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fair time, walnuts and family farming

Growing up memorial weekend was never a time to go to beach, or the lake, or hang out with friends. It was always a busy fair weekend. The week leading up to and the weekend of Memorial Day has always been Silver Dollar Fair in Chico. My sister and myself grew up showing sheep at this fair, and this year it was time for my little niece to show her first lamb at the fair. I guess that means, she isn't little anymore! So I packed up my little almond farmer and we rode the train up north for a weekend of fair time, walnuts and family farming.


My niece did a great job and placed 3rd in showmanship and market. She is a natural showman and has great potential of being an even better showman with more practice and hardwork. We spent a full day at the fair watching her show her lamb and then another even longer day at auction waiting for her to auction off her lamb. As I did my first year, there were a few tears but she still has a breeding ewe at home for her to still care for. With as much care and love she gave to her lambs as she was raising them over the past 4 months, it is no wonder she was a little upset to be saying goodbye. But in the end, she learned some great life lessons on responsibility, taking ownership, money management and caring for a living animal. She was already talking about how excited she was to pick out her next lamb this coming weekend for the next fair only 3 months away.

In between days at the fair, my little almond farmer and I had to take the opportunity to share some time with my walnut farmer father. We went around the home place and checked on his walnuts together. My little almond farmer was fascinated by the sprinklers. My dad's walnut orchards are irrigated on permanent solid set sprinklers. The pipes are buried under ground and the sprinkler stand and nozzles are above ground and rotate in circles to irrigate the trees. This is a common irrigation method for trees and one widely used in Northern California. The irrigation pump had just been turned on, so we had to check the sprinklers to ensure they were all working properly. Sprinklers can get clogged with debris and need to be cleaned out, or they can get stuck and need to be adjusted. This was a fun opportunity to show my son how my dad irrigates.
3 generations checking irrigation

solid set sprinkler

beautiful walnut crop

It truly was a family affair that day. My dad, me and my little almond farmer out in the orchard together. That is what family farms are all about. According to the USDA, 97% of the 2.1 million farms in the US are family farms.  I am happy to say I grew up on one of those and I am happy to still be a part of one today. Family farms are vital to our country and our children's future. It was growing up on the farm that taught me responsibility, hard work and love for agriculture. It was raising livestock and working on the farm that made me who I am today. Going home, even for just a weekend, reignites the true love for agriculture that I was raised on and am raising my son on.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Monday, May 16, 2016

Storm Clean Up

Over the past month, the Central Valley of California has been ridden with storms and high winds. These storms have been filled with intense thunder coming in fast and furious. Within an hour these storms have come out of nowhere and bring high gusts of winds upward of 50 mph at times. Rain flying in and dumping water in a short amount of time has become a norm it seems like, sometimes receiving 1 inch in a few hours. These storms have been causing damage to many agriculture crops but even after we take out the down trees, there is more to clean up.

After removing more than 300 trees from our ranches, you can imagine what has left was an aftermath of more to clean up. Dragging fallen trees out of the orchards with the tractor, can often times pull excessive dirt along with it. Leaving piles and dirt spread out across the field is not ideal for our farming practices. We are having to go back through the field and fill in the holes where the trees once stood with this excesses dirt.
piles of branches and trees to be burned
Along with fallen trees spread across the fields, there are also loose roots and broken branches that have to be pulled out. Trees and branches create a rather large pile you can only believe in real life. Pictures really just don't do this justice. Firs,t we wanted to lessen the amount of wood to get rid of and be able to have some benefit from the lost trees. We invited neighbors and friends to cut firewood from the fallen trees once they were laid out in the field roads. Once they were able to cut all the firewood they could, we were left with trunks, large branches and limbs.

There are two options to dispose of the leftover tree matter. One option is to have the wood chipped into small pieces, which requires a very heavy duty wood chipper machine called a tub grinder. The businesses that specialize in wood chipping have a huge wait list because of the drought and orchards being removed. For us to get ours chipped, there was a month and a half wait time for a custom operator to come in. So, we were left with option B, controlled burning.
piles of wood chips our neighbor was able to chip

In most regions of California, the Central Valley included, we can only burn on approved 'burn days' that our Valley Air Quality Control Board deems okay. This prolongs the disposal process because we have to wait for approval. There are also guidelines of what and how we can burn on these controlled days. Explaining what plant matter we can burn and how long it has been dried for. We can also only burn during certain hours, so we are needing to stop and put out the fires if they aren't burned out by the completion time given for controlled burning.

As you can guess this is an ongoing process that will take some time. But, we will work diligently in cleaning up our orchards. In a little over two months we could be starting almond harvest and we need clean orchards.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Almond Granola

I am a creature of habit and routine. I like schedules. I like to know what is expected, what is planned. I do not like surprises. I do not like something unplanned. I am a planner. I had to find the sex of our child out so I could plan the nursery and clothes around boy or girl. I had to design my wedding ring, so I knew I would like it and no one else would have one like it. I tend to take over group projects and have a problem with delegating tasks to other. Some call is controlling. I just like to know all the details.  I do the same thing with my breakfast. I have a breakfast menu and I tend to stick to what I like. In the winter, it is usually oatmeal with peanut butter. In the summer, it is granola and Greek yogurt. I do switch it up every once in a while with two fried or pouched eggs on toast...okay maybe I do have a problem.

In the spring when it starts getting warmer out I switch my routine to granola and Greek yogurt. One day I looked at my granola and had an epiphany. Why have I been buying granola when the main ingredients were things I already had in the pantry? So, I looked up a few granola recipes, found what I liked, merged a few recipes and substituted what I had on hand.....and you have my Almond Granola recipe that is now my go to. 

Of course, you can always change out what you have on hand or what you prefer for pretty much any of the ingredients. I seem to always have pumpkin seed and never sunflower seeds, I had a huge bag of flax seed from when I was in a flax seed kick a year or so ago. And like any almond farmer, I always have honey and almonds on hand. For those who don't use honey often there is a simple trick for making sure your honey doesn't stick to the measuring cup...just measure the oil first in the cup before the honey. The oil coated measuring cup makes the honey just slide out. So simple and it will save your life. You're welcome.


Hope you enjoy this simple and easy recipe!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl