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Showing posts from August, 2016

My summer essentials for raising kids on the farm

It is officially summer and mother nature is reminding us with the 100 degree weather that is so graciously here. With summer comes lots of outside time for the kids. Raising kids on the farm takes summer to a whole new level. There is just dirt everywhere, dirt in my house, dirt in the diapers, dirt places I didn't know dirt could go. It is just something I learn to deal with and I have also learned to hire a good cleaning lady.
But, with summer comes endless hours of fun and family time. We spend hours outside, in the fields, walking through the orchards, picking up parts, running down equipment and taking meals to the farm during those late work nights.
In the midst of all the craziness, there are certain things I just can't live without. Things that make life so much easier. Things that I have learned to love. I created a list of my summer essentials for raising kids on the farm. These have been some of my favorites during the last four years.

I have two kids, born during…

Why AB1066 is bad for California agriculture.

The agriculture industry feeds you, clothes you and helps stimulate the economy. But our elected officials are in the midst of threatening the agriculture livelihood of California. Agriculture is a $2.4 trillion industry providing over 1.3 billion jobs. But that could soon be changing, and not for the good. California politicians already approved a minimum wage increase that will raise our wages $1/ hr every year until it is $15/hour by 2022.  This wage increase coupled with the proposed Assembly Bill 1066 will kill the California agriculture industry.


AB1066 is proposing to change our agriculture overtime laws. Although some would like to tell you we don't have such in place, we do. Agriculture employees currently get time and half after 10 hours of work. AB1066 wants to change that to 8 hours. So by 2022, after 8 hours of work we will be paying our farm laborers $22.50/ hour. That is an additional $15/ day per employee if we continue to work a 10 hour day. This number doesn't…

Plum Cobbler Bars

My father has one of the greatest fruit orchards. Hands down. When he planted his walnut orchard years ago, we left a row the length of their 2 acre homestead to plant assorted fruit trees. He has all kinds of fruit trees on this strip of trees; nectarines, peaches, apples, pears, figs, and of course plums. With about 4 of each fruit tree you can imagine the loads of fresh fruit he gets in the summer. Of course the family dog is sure to harvest from the low hanging branches. It seems like every time I am home for the summer I get boxes of fruit fruit. The last time I was home, I was handed a box of plums as I was leaving.

When looking for recipes to incorporate fresh plums into, there really aren't that many. I did find a few but if you follow my recipe posts, you  know simplicity is how I bake or cook. I needed something easy and with less ingredients the better.

I came across a breakfast bar recipe and of course had to put my spin on it! I brought these out to the farm one day a…

How is an almond harvested?

Harvest is in full force on the farm. We started shaking about two weeks ago and now we are sweeping and picking up almonds. After we shake almonds, we leave them on the orchard floor for 7-10 days to dry. Almonds have a pretty high moisture level on the tree and it takes a while for mother nature to dry them out. When they are dry enough we start sweeping.

A sweeper is a self propelled machine that is low to the ground, has brushes out in front and a blower to the side. The sweeper blows the nuts from the tree line to the orchard row and the brushes then sweep the almonds into what is called a windrow. The windrows make it possible for the harvester to come through and pick up the nuts.

The harvester gets pulled by a tractor through the orchard and carries a reservoir cart. The harvester picks up the almonds from the windrow and does an initial cleaning of dirt, leaves, rocks and other debris.  The harvester then dumps the almonds into the reservoir cart. This is one steady motion th…

It's harvest season

Harvest has officially started. We are moving and shaking on the farm. We started on Saturday by test shaking a few rows to make sure they were shaking clean and get any kinks out. Sometimes the nuts can stick to the limbs if they aren't quite ready to harvest or if they are too dry. But we are having good luck with shaking so far and a majority of the nuts are shaking right off. We like to service the equipment in the off season and make sure they are mechanically all healthy. So once we start up, hopefully we don't have too many major issues.

Monday, we started shaking in full force. Nuts look clean and good, but we will know better yield numbers once they are loaded up in trailers headed to the huller or better yet, once they are run through the huller.

 We are still mowing the orchards and we will continue to until all the soft shell variety fields are mowed. Soft shells are the California classification of varieties, typically we start with Nonpareils and Sonora. The s…