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Thursday, June 30, 2016

White Chocolate Almond Coconut Cookies

You'd think that when the weather is hot and you are tired, nap time is in order. But after a long and hot week, I decided to unwind by baking a few batched of cookies. Nestle has an amazing recipe for these Island cookies as they call them. I altered a few things and came up with these yummy beauties! 


White chocolate is my obsession. I am not a huge milk or dark chocolate fan but when it comes to white chocolate, man I could eat buckets of those chips. If white chocolate isn't your thing you can always substitute milk or dark. And if coconut isn't your favorite you can just take it out. I am a sucker for any recipe with white chocolate or coconut, so adding almonds makes these unbelievably delicious!

As I am sure you all know by now, I like to skip steps or take shortcuts when it comes to any recipe. I like to mix the butter and sugars in the beginning instead of using separate bowls and mixing the flour and powders first. I am sure if you ask any professional baker, I am doing it all wrong. But my cookies always turn out delicious and I have less dishes to wash in the end, so I think I am doing just fine.

I know you also are supposed to let the cookies rest but honestly, eating these right out of the oven just can't be beat! Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Love what you do, do what you love

Wake up before sunrise. Get home after the sunsets. Work outside in the heat and the cold. Drive heavy machinery. Get covered in oil and grease fixing broken equipment. Fix broken pipe and fall in the mud. Be lucky to have a lunch break between all the chaos. Although it may seem like a hell of a day to many, to some this is just a normal day on the farm. Farming is certainty not for everyone, but for some it is everything. What makes it all bearable? Love. Dreams. Passion. YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO, DO WHAT YOU LOVE. 


When you grow up on a family farm you don't know any better. Having your father drop you off at school with a tardy note that reads "Had to help a ewe and pull a baby lamb out this morning" may be strange to city kids. But to a farm kid, it is probably just another Tuesday. My husband and I are lucky to have grown up in families with a deep passion and love for farming.

I was raised in the middle of an almond orchard, with orchards across the street and surrounding us on all sides. Orchard life was all I knew. I had my first real neighbor when I went off to college. I still remember my first grocery shopping experience, I had to call my mom and ask what kind of ground beef to buy. We always had home grown meat or meat we bought from other 4H kids. I didn't know what % lean was normal. Growing up on a farm you kinda just take certain things for granted. Not just home grown meat, but a certain kind of love of the land, love of what you do.

Farming isn't just a job or a hobby. Farming is a love and a way of life. To be a true farmer you really do LOVE WHAT YOU DO AND DO WHAT YOU LOVE. And when a true farmer suddenly stops loving what he does, its time for some readjustment. Sometimes life can get overwhelming and farming is no exception. When farming is not just a job is it your family business and your livelihood, you CAN and DO get burnt out. After weeks and months of no time off, no vacation, no end in sight and nothing but long hours and busy seasons ahead, it may cause you to start thinking if you have the love after all.

But don't give up. The land needs you. The trees needs you. The animals needs you. Love needs you. You are what holds the whole thing together. If there is one thing I have learned from growing up on a family farm, it is that nothing comes easy. You have to work for what you want. And WHEN you fail or fall down, you get up and try again. When you stop having fun or enjoying what your doing, give yourself a break and come back to try again. Sometimes we just need a little recharge, a mini vacation, a night out, or even just an afternoon off. Family will help bring that love back. So next time you feel yourself loosing a little bit of that love. STOP, think about how you got that love, where you first felt it, how it made you feel. You have love inside you. Sometimes you just need a little push or LOVE tap to remind you.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Friday, June 17, 2016

Harvest is coming, harvest is coming

Harvest is coming, harvest is coming. Some may call me chicken little, but harvest IS coming. Our almonds are starting to show early signs of hull split, which is the earliest sign of almond harvest. Nut size and nut set combined are what is referred to as yield.  In almonds these factors vary so much depending on where you are located in California. North, South, East, West, sandy soil, clay soil, state water, ground water, salty water, variety, rootstock the list goes on and on. These elements can change yield so much that almond estimates are truly that, an estimate.


In general terms in the southern end of the Central Valley most of our nuts appear smaller than last year when comparing size of the nut. Size of the nut can be determined by water the tree has available to take into its system and create a crop. Size can also be determined by how stressed a tree may be due to water or weather conditions. Size can also be related to set, a larger set produces smaller nuts because the tree spreads its resources to more nuts. Nuts are created by pollination through bloom.

This year the bloom was rather fast and furious. Back in February, our flowers bloomed very fast and before we knew it they were done. A tree has a large number of flowers that are pollinated but only 10-15% will actually set an almond. Retention of pollinated almonds was good this year, making a fairly decent set. There appears to be somewhat better set than last year, meaning more nuts. How that related to yield we will wait and see.

In our micro climate we didn't have severe hail storms as other areas of California did. Some areas had a worse drop rate than we did. Our biggest problem was wind knocking down trees rather than a large percentage of the crop. So instead of loosing developing nuts we lost whole trees.

As the nuts get closer to harvest they start to split. We have already had corner trees on the edge of the orchards that have started to split. In the next week, we will be seeing more and more of these nuts start to split. Blanks will split first as they are weaker hulls and have no nut inside of them. In the next week, we will see more splitting of viable nuts. As more nuts start to split, we will have to spray an insecticide, about the end of next week, to product the nuts from naval orange worm making a home inside the nut.  After hull split spray it will be about four weeks until harvest. We are projected to start harvest last week of July and then harvest is here!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

No, the California drought is NOT over

With more rain this winter than California has seen the past few years and many Northern California reservoirs filling up, many have forgotten that California is still in a drought. Average or even above average rainfall for one winter will certainly not carry us out of this drought. Our reservoir system is broken, farms have gone out of business, others are fallowing thousands of acres, and our groundwater is being depleted. No, the California drought is NOT over. We have a long road ahead of us.

Ca Department of Water Resources Reservoir Levels as of May 22nd.
Northern California has received some much needed rain this winter and snow in the mountains, helping to fill key reservoirs such as Oroville, Shasta and Folsom. As you move south through the state, the reservoirs are far from full, many at below average capacity still. However, California is some what used to this situation. Much of the rain and snow falls in the northern part of the state and the southern desert regions receive much less rain and snow. That is why the California aqueduct, the State Water Project and the Federal Water Projects were built in the first place. To bring the much needed water from the north to the south. As the populations in the south grew and as farming in our state also grew, this battle started over who is more entitled to the water. I am not here today to try and solve that battle or even discuss it, it is a greater battle than we can accomplish.

On May 9th, our Governor issued another Executive Order, as I feel people stopped conserving, stopped listening and starting wasting once again. Again, Governor Brown is mandating that Californian's adopt a new way of life. He is banning wasteful practices of hosing off sidewalks and driveways, using a hose without a shut off nozzle, the use of fountains that don't recirculate water. We have been in this drought for years now, why are people still doing these things to begin with? We all must conserve. Our state is too big, everyone must do their part.

Thousands of acres of agriculture land have been fallowed due to the drought. Some agriculture water districts are asking for farmers to fallow up to 50% of their irrigated land. The picture at the beginning of the post is from my farmer friend Joe Del Bosque and just one of his many fallowed fields on the westside of Fresno County. No, the California drought is NOT over. Farmers have gone out of business. Farm labor have lost their jobs. These people can no longer spend as they once have and subsequently, other businesses have closed in these valley communities that depend on agriculture and the agriculture employees as customers. It is a true ripple effect. Farms go out of business, farm labor loose their jobs, they can't buy good, general stores have to close their doors, people are effected in all walks of life. Our central valley has towns that have run out of water and have been issued bottled water for over a year to guarantee their community has a safe drinking water supply. But next time you drink bottle water, check the water source listed on the bottle. Most bottled water is filled right here in California, using more of our valuable resources.

Water is a never ending issue in California. There will always be people fighting over it. There will be people going out of business over it. There will be crops thirsty for it. Until we prioritize water to the top issue in our state and build more infrastructure to manage our flow better, we will continue to have a problem. And we will continue to be in a drought.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny