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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful for my faith

It's Thursday again! Have you been reflecting on what you are thankful for?


Every week, I am posting something I am thankful for and challenging you to think of something you are thankful for. The idea is to appreciate what we have and stop thinking of all the negative that surrounds us. I think we all need to stop and take time to appreciate what we have. So this month, I challenge you all to stop what you are doing and take some time to be thankful and appreciate the world around you.


I ask you to 'like' Almond Girl Jenny Facebook page AND this post AND then comment with something you are thankful for.  I will pick one person each week and send them some 'nutty' cheer to help them spread their happiness.




Something I am thankful for is my faith.




I feel blessed to live in a country where we have freedom to worship and believe what we want. We can raise our children with the faith we chose and believe in what we chose to believe. In many parts of this word, people don't have this freedom.


I am thankful to have been raised in a faith based home. My father was raised Catholic and my mother converted shortly after marrying my father. They raised my sister and I with strong Catholic values. I went to Catholic elementary school and was active in my church growing up.


I am thankful to have also married a Catholic man who was raised with the same appreciation for his faith as I was. I was married in the Church and am raising my children with the same values I was raised. I am blessed to also be the godmother of my oldest niece, something that is very special to me.
Faith was always present while I was growing up. It is something that I still appreciate. I have many found memories of participating in youth groups and attending youth retreats. It was something that helped me grow in my faith as I was maturing and figuring out the world around me.


This last weekend we baptized my baby daughter in the Catholic Church just as we did with our son when he was a baby. This is a special thing to be thankful for to me. Faith is a core foundation of who I am and I hope to raise my children with the same beliefs.
It brings me joy to watch our children learn more about their faith. My son is not even three yet, but he can recite grace before meals. He even grabs my hand and reminds me to pray if I forget before eating. He attends a Christian preschool and is learning about God and Christian values outside the house. It is important to my husband and I that our kids learn about these values not just at home but in school and everyday life.


To me, faith is something you turn to in times of need. When life gets rough, when things aren't going the right way, when you don't know where else to turn. I turn to God. Faith is what gives me strength. Faith is what gives me guidance. Faith is what gives me security.


Especially now, when our world has turned to hate, crime and devastation I am thankful to have faith in my life to turn to. There have been multiple loved ones in my life recently who have been affected with cancer. Faith is what will heal them. Faith is what will guide them in their journey. Faith is what I need to be thankful for when I question, "why?".


I am thankful for my faith and the ability to have faith. Faith gives me the ability to be thankful.


What are you thankful for?




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thankful for farmers

In case you missed it last week, I introduced a Thankful Thursday Giveaway series.


Every week, I will post something I am thankful for and challenge you to think of something you are thankful for. I think we all need to stop and take time to appreciate what we have.


So this month, I challenge you all to stop what you are doing and take some time to be thankful and appreciate the world around you.




I ask you to 'like' Almond Girl Jenny Facebook page AND this post AND then comment with something you are thankful for.  I will pick one person each week and send them some 'nutty' cheer to help them spread their happiness.


This week, I wanted to think of something that I did everyday and should be thankful for. Often times, we do things and don't realize how it impacts others. What do you do everyday and take it for granted to be able to do?




Well, I eat everyday. Three times a day, sometimes more than that. How do I get my food? Before you can answer with "the grocery store". Let's think beyond that. The people who get the food to the store. The people who plant, care for, and harvest the food. The farmers!


I am thankful for farmers.





I am a fourth generation California farmer on both my mother and father's sides. Before that my family had been farming in other parts of the world. My dad's side of the family were wine makers in Italy. My mom's side were sheep herders in the Mid West. But they all came to California in the early 1900's for one reason, to farm.




I am lucky to have married a fellow fourth generation California farmer. His great grandfather came to California for one reason, to farm. California seemed to be the land of opportunity, the land of hope, the place to make a fresh start. California had fertile land and seemed like a great place for many to plant roots in agriculture. Farming was their passion. Their desire to move to a new and unknown place, to start fresh and be a successful farmer. Becoming a farmer was what gave them drive and hope. It was the sought after career, the lifestyle of their dreams.




Today, farming can often be an under rated or looked down upon occupation or lifestyle. Farmers can be looked at as dumb or uneducated. In the movies or advertisements farmers are depicted as okies with overalls, wheat in their mouths or missing a front tooth.



But if you ask me, farmers are some of the smartest, most educated, eternally optimistic, and nicest people I know. Farmers have to be smart to be able to figure out how to do more with less. More and more land is being taken up by urban sprawl, city development, environmental regulations, or lack of resources. Yet, we are being asked to produce more. We are being allocated less water and given more regulations. We are being told to use less pesticides but grow a crop that looks blemish free and has no signs of insects. Farmers are the modern day superman, producing more with less.


Farmers work day in and day out to produce food to feed us all. They often do it without any praise or acknowledgement. They are the backbone of everyone's lives. Farmers are the unsung heroes.
How many of you expect that food to just be there when you want it? The farmers work hard every day to ensure your food is where it needs to be. I am thankful for the farmers in my life and all the farmers across the globe that work hard every day to provide a safe and reliable food supply for you and me.


What are you thankful for?


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny







Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thankful for my family

With all the hate, crime and devastation in the world these days I have found myself in need of love and joy. To me, November is the perfect month to reflect on what we are thankful for. I think we all need to stop and take time to appreciate what we have. There is too much negativity to sometimes find the light, as I have written about before. So this month, I challenge you all to stop what you are doing and take some time to be thankful and appreciate the world around you.

To help me spread some love and happiness I thought I would do a fun thankful Thursday giveaway post every week this month of November. Every week, I will post something I am thankful for and challenge you to think of something you are thankful for.
The idea is to appreciate what we have and stop thinking of all the negative that surrounds us. Thanksgiving and Christmas are happy holidays were we should be thankful and not be dwelling on negative things.

Every week this month, I will share something I am thankful for and I want to know something you are thankful for.

I ask you to 'like' Almond Girl Jenny Facebook page AND this post AND then comment with something you are thankful for. I will pick one person each week and send them some 'nutty' cheer to help them spread their happiness.




So let's start out. Something I am thankful for is my family.






I am thankful for my husband. He is loving, compassionate, patient, and caring. He works hard every day to provide for us and never asks for anything in return. He is the best father to our children. Watching him play and read to our children just makes me love him more and more. It is true the old saying, "I never knew how much I loved your Daddy, until I saw how much he loved you". It is like my love for him grew astronomically when our children were born, and it only continues to grow each day I see them together.




I am thankful for my children. They challenge me, press my buttons and exhaust me beyond belief. But when my son comes up to me to kiss me and tell me he loves me, it melts my heart. When I don't get any sleep or can't seem to calm my tired baby and then she falls asleep smiling in my arms, it makes it all worth it. I know these 'little' days won't last forever and then they will be running off to college, so I cherish each hug, kiss, smile and embrace they give me.



I am thankful for my parents. My parents are always there for me when I need them and often times when I didn't know I needed them. They are my inspiration of what a loving and long lasting marriage should be. They are there to lend advice, a helping hand or just a place to vent when I need it. My parents have taught me so much about life, family, faith, and work ethic that I will never know how to repay them but in love... and grandchildren of course. Seeing my parent's faces light up when they see their grandchildren is a whole other love to be thankful for.





I am thankful for my sister, nieces, nephew, in-laws, grandparents, aunts and uncles and everyone in my family that helped make me who I am. Without my family there to support me, I wouldn't be where I am today. It is family that helps build you and make you stronger. It is family that makes you, you.




I challenge you to take sometime this week to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Tell them you love them, give them a warm embrace or just be there for them.




Who are you thankful for?






Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Harvest is done!

HARVEST IS DONE! Finished. Complete. Over. Ended. Final. No more!
Can you tell I am excited? In case you don't follow me on social media, we were so excited for harvest to be over we went on a mini family vacation to celebrate.
There is just something about working your hinny off for over two months that makes you want to celebrate when it's finally over.
empty elevator and shuttle cart
We started harvest this year at the beginning of August. We started off with a few hiccups but finally got the ball rolling the second full week of August. Others around us started the week or so earlier than we did. Some areas are still feeling the affects of the drought and their almonds come off earlier from the water stress. Some farmers have so many acres, they need to get the ball rolling before they get behind.
harvester picking up a final row
Once we were moving, harvest kept rolling through for a few weeks. Once nonpareil was all done shaking, there generally was a break around labor day. Then the pollinators come off after that. With so many different almond varieties out there, harvest timing can be totally different between growers.
We are finished, but some growers around us are still picking up almonds. Our final variety, Fritz, was slightly green still at the end of harvest. So instead of shaking straight through to finish, we had to take a few days break and wait for them to dry out more. Then, they were ready to shake and finish up. Once those final almonds were on the ground, it was pedal to the medal to finish sweeping and picking up. When the end is in the sight you just want to finish and be done. Not long after, we were.


And as harvest approached the finish line, we were headed out! My almond farmer husband has had two months of crazy hours, long days, exhausting work, and sweaty temperatures. He deserved a break. So off to the beach for a mini family vacation. We are blessed to live within two hours of a nice, relaxing beach to help us calm and refresh. Now on to the next chapter in almond farming.




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The end in sight

Shaking is done! The shaker went through our last variety, in the last row, in our last field yesterday. What a relief it is to be one step closer to finishing harvest. It seems like forever ago that we started harvest, but in reality it was about two months ago. Two months of long hours, long weekends and tired feet. Our family and dedicated employees have worked hard to make it this far and now we are in the home stretch. I can see the end in sight.


Now that shaking is done we need to sweep and pick up what's left. And once we are all picked up, harvest will be done! We still have some of the Monterey variety to finish sweeping and then to finish picking up.
Shaking the last variety, in the last row, in the last field.




The finisher will be the Fritz that we just finished shaking. Fritz is always our last variety and the one we are waiting on. Now that we are done shaking we wait a week or so until they are dry enough to start sweeping.  Once they are dry we will sweep and pick them up. I can't wait until we can start picking them up, then the end will really be near.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

We're number one!

We're number one, we're number one!!


Every year towards the end of summer, the county Agriculture Commissioner offices release the crop reports for the previous year. The crop report is a compiling of the acreage, yield and gross values for the crops grown within the county. In California, the central valley eagerly awaits these numbers. But why? One reason, to see who is number one.


You have to understand something in California. We grow food to feed the world. The food we grow here, is not only consumed in our backyards and in our state, but the food we grow is shipped across the country and world. Our crop reports show us who grows the most. And because, we grow food for the state, nation and world we want to know who in California is the number one. In the Central Valley we are the heavy producers. Between Kern, Fresno and Tulare County the crop value is over $19 billion!


So when the 2016 Kern County Crop Report came out, everyone wanted to know, who would be number one. Kern County's crop value alone is nearly $7.2 billion. Now that's an impressive number. And between the three counties, Kern was the only county to see an increase from the year before.


Now what do these numbers mean? Well let me tell you, this doesn't mean the farmers in the county took home this much money. This is gross value of agriculture production. This doesn't include the cost of farming; water, labor, equipment, fuel, regulations, fees, fertilizers, etc. There is a lot that goes into making food, and none of that is covered here. We must remember that in California our water, if you have any, is very expensive. We have the highest minimum wage in the country and we are heavily regulated in doing business in this state. All these factors, make it very hard to farm in California, yet we do it. Don't ask me how, that is a whole other topic.


Needless to say though, I am proud to live and farm in a county that has the abilities, besides all its obstacles, to produce so much food. One in five jobs is directly or indirectly linked to agriculture production. I think people lose touch with this number. From the grocery store clerk, the truck driver, the produce broker, the field worker and the farmer there are so many hands that go into getting your food on your table.


So just how does Kern County and the rest of the central valley rank up?




Kern — $7.19 Billion
Tulare — $6.37 Billion
Fresno — $6.18 Billion


For the first time, Kern County is the number one agriculture producing county in the state and nation. We grow 40% of the states pistachios and 20% of the country's almonds. We grow more grapes or almonds than other counties total agriculture production.


I am proud to live and farm in Kern County. For the past several years, we suffered from a detrimental drought that cost us water, land, labor, farms and so much more. To have overcome such a lose and to come out on top shows that we are a strong county. Farmers and ranchers are tough. We know how to make more with less. We have had to grow more with less resources and we have done it well. So well, we are now number one.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Reminiscing









My life couldn't be more summed up in a better quote right now. It has been a challenging summer to say the least. While it is easy to say life will continue to go on, it is sometimes hard to coup.




My baby daughter arrived two days after the funeral of my grandmother. My grandma had a rough few months leading up to her passing. She suffered a fall in November that triggered an increase in her Dementia. As it tends to happen at the end of our lives, one little thing after another added up and led to her being placed on hospice care the beginning of June.




I was lucky to head up to say my goodbyes with only 3 weeks left of my pregnancy. I wasn't supposed to travel, but I knew if I didn't go then, I might not be able to go later. Well turns out my instincts were right. My grandmother passed away less than a week before my due date. Her funeral was on my due date, so I was unable to travel to be there.




My grandma and my daughter now share a middle name to remember and honor her forever.





Loss has an interesting way of presenting itself. I'd like to think that a little bit of my grandma was reborn with my daughter. It is sad to think that they will never meet, but I know she has an extra special guardian angel now.




As I look back and reminisce on the times I had with my Grandma, I am thankful and glad of the memories I have. It is those memories that I will share and pass on to my children. Grandparents are a special friend to small children and hold a place in our hearts forever. I can only hope that my children will cherish the times they share with my parents and forever be grateful of those memories.




Memories are with us forever. The material possessions that ones leave behind may help us to remember those times, but they too don't last forever. The only things that will be with us forever are the moments we shared together and keep in our hearts.




I quickly realized that when I wasn't able to be present for my grandma's passing or funeral, my memories I have are what I need to remember and share. The new life that I bring into the world will carry on new memories. The chances I get to reminisce with my children of the generations before them, will hopefully share a place in their heart as it does mine.






May our memories never fade and our hearts always be open to new ones.






Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Almond Peach Cobbler Muffins

It isn't quite summer without fresh peaches! Growing up my Dad always had a row of fresh fruit trees along the house and when those trees got ripe, it meant summer was officially here. Well my Dad still has those trees and when my mom came to visit the other week guess what she brought with her, a box of those fresh peaches from Dad's orchard. You could say I was a little excited.


But a whole box of peaches for our little family, what was I to do with a whole box? Well of course I eat my fair share, but you can only eat so many fresh peaches. I froze some. My sister made me a fresh peach cobbler and I still had some left. So I decided to make some peach cobbler muffins with an almond twist.




I can add almonds to just about anything I bake. If almonds aren't your favorite to bake with, you can always use normal flour and vanilla extract. I of course, love almonds to bake with so these are a yummy addition to me recipe book.




These muffins are very moist, they keep best in the fridge to keep them moist and fresh. The chunks of peach are oh so yummy. If you don't have fresh peaches or they aren't as sweet as peak of harvest peaches, you may want to add sugar. But fresh peaches and honey make this recipe so sweet, you don't need sugar.




Hope you enjoy these as much as we do.



Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Harvest is in full swing


Harvest is in full swing on the farm. Some farmers around us started a good week or two before us, but we finally started shaking last week.


Harvest starting all depends on soil type, water moisture in the nuts, weather and tree variety. These factors could vary throughout our state making the start of almond harvest vary throughout the state. But on our family farm, we are shaking.

Harvest is full of long hours, busy schedules and hot weather! So anytime we can find our favorite almond farmer to have some family time, we get excited. I consider it a huge blessing that between chaos of harvest we can take a few minutes to have some family time. We of course had to take a family selfie to celebrate our little girl's first almond harvest







Family selfie as a family of FOUR
. 




Drip irrigating nonpareils before harvest



Before we could start almond harvest, we had to give the trees one last drink. After the trees are shaken they will lay on the orchard floor for 7-10 days before being swept, picked up and taken to the huller. These trees could go a few weeks without water in the harvest process. With the hot 100 plus degree days, we want to make sure they get one last drink before harvest starts. And thanks to drip irrigation we are able to irrigate between harvest of the different varieties. 


After we irrigate one last time, we need to mow the weeds and grass from the orchard rows. Any debris left in the orchard during harvest could get picked up with the almonds. This would cause problems with the harvesting equipment getting clogged up or break down. If any of this material arrives with the almonds at the huller, the same could happen there.


So once, the trees are irrigated and the orchard is mowed it was time to shake. Now that we have shaking underway for about a week, we just started sweeping and will soon be picking up. Harvest is in full swing!


Mowing the orchard of weeds and grass

It's time to shake!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hull Split

Because I am now a busy mom of two and my life has been crazy, a not so wordless Wednesday.


Here are a few photos of hull split over the past few weeks. Harvest will be here soon, probably end of next week or beginning of the following week. Stay tuned...










Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Our newest little bundle of joy has arrived!

Daddy's little Hazel nut is here! Our newest little bundle of joy has arrived. We couldn't be more excited to welcome our little girl. As our doctor described it, she came in like a bullet train.




It was definitely an exciting and fast labor but not at first. My due date was June 21st and being 4 days early with my son, I was expecting to go into an early labor. Well, that didn't happen. June 21st came and went and I was still pregnant. My doctor actually scheduled me to be induced on June 21st because of low blood pressure and the fact that my son's labor was only 6 hours. They say your labor gets faster and faster the more kids you have.




June 21st was the first day of summer and in Bakersfield there was no doubt it was summer. That week was 110 degrees plus and apparently that causes women to go into labor. Although I was scheduled to be induced, there was an increase in women coming into the hospital in natural labor. There was no room at the hospital for me to come to. So, June 21st came and went and I was still pregnant. June 22nd, the hospital called and said I was first on the list to be induced and they would call me as soon as a room opened up. It was another day of 110 degrees and no rooms ever became available for me.




On June 23rd at 2am I woke up to use the bathroom as I did multiple times throughout the night for the past several weeks. I climbed back into bed to try to go back to sleep. As I lay there for about 2 minutes I feel a sudden burst of water and jump out of bed to realize my water just broke. No more than 5 minutes later I was having contractions. By the time we make it to the hospital at 3am my contractions were 5 minutes apart and I was 7 cm dilated.




It was a fast and furious labor with no time for pain medicine. Hazel Frances arrived at 4:41am.


Photo credit: Stacey Leigh Photography






 
 





Big Brother loves her and tries to kiss and cuddle her constantly. We are working on being gentle and soft touches.





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

3 Ingredient Fudge

As my pregnancy nears the end I've been craving sweets like crazy. I never really had a sweet tooth before I became pregnant. I used to just drink my dessert by having another glass of red wine. With both my pregnancies though, sweets have always been on my mind. I just want more and more of the bad things.


These last few weeks I have really been out of energy. I have not wanted to do much but lay down and pretend to rest. Let's be real, when you are at the end of pregnancy there is no such thing as sleeping. You just kind of lay there and pretend to sleep. So, when I was hit with a few days of energy I ran with it and did some last minute meal prep and baking to stock up on some things before baby arrives. I made a few freezer casseroles and of course did some baking.


If you follow me on social media you know last week I had a burst of energy and chopped up a TON of almonds for some baking experiments. I of course had to make a double batch of my favorite almond granola and then I wanted to try a new recipe that didn't seem to turn out. So, that baking fail left me seeking an easy and delicious sweet tooth recipe that was sure to please.


This 3 ingredient fudge is a winner! It is 3 ingredients, how could that not be a winner. You know I like easy and simple recipes so this is sure to be a staple in my baking recipes for the future. When one of the ingredients is also almonds, you know I have to share it. Of course, when I found the recipe it wasn't almonds and I had to tweak it a little to make it mine.  You can of course substitute almonds for walnuts, pistachios or even coconut would be yummy.


So, give it a try and let me know how you like it...it won't take long at all!





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Start of Summer

As spring comes to an end and summer is fast approaching it seems that almond harvest will be here before we know it. But first, we must get acclimated to these 100 degree days and the fact that sun and heat are here to stay. Oh ya and before summer starts officially, I'd like this baby out of me!


Our family tree is growing and my official due date is the first day of summer. Deep down inside I was hoping summer wouldn't rear it's head until the baby decides to join us. The thought of being pregnant during the 110 degree days is making me dizzy. So, with two weeks left to go, let's hope it stays somewhat cool. For me and the trees.


Not just my due date is fast approaching, but hull split should also pick up around the same time as baby arriving. Hull split is the unofficial countdown to harvest. When the hulls begin to split, we know the almonds have roughly 4-5 weeks until they are ready for harvest.


Currently, the exterior green hull is done growing from a size perspective. Like my baby, we are just waiting for the almond to reach full maturity.  The exterior of the shell is still soft where it connects to the hull. The inside of the shell, where it protects the meat is starting to harden.


Peaches and almonds are like fruit cousins. Peaches are closer related to almonds than other stone fruit and almonds are closer related to peaches than other nuts. So, let's think of the almond development as you do a peach.


The almond hull is like the peach flesh. Before the peach is ripe, the flesh is done growing and is just protecting the fruit until it is ripe and ready to enjoy. The almond shell and meat is just like the peach pit. As the peach matures, the pit will grow and harden until its ripe and ready to enjoy. The almond shell and meat just need to harden and finish maturing. These last few weeks the almonds will finish developing their oil, sugars and protein content until the hull splits and the almond is ready to eat.




Once hull split comes, the next stage for the almonds will be drying out before we can harvest them. Drying the almonds releases excess moisture and helps the nuts ensure a long shelf life in your pantry or storage container.
As we countdown the weeks until harvest and watch these almonds develop, let's hope the days don't get too hot and this baby decides to come before the craziness starts on the farm!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Put a little gravel in your travel

Do you ever see something and instantly it reminds you of a memory? I get that way with gravel driveways. Sometimes home can feel a million miles away but when I see a gravel driveway it can mean so much to me. And whenever I hear that Rodney Atkins song and hear the verse "Put a little gravel in my travel" it brings back all kinds of feelings.




Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones or something but I've been kind of homesick lately. It's only been a few weeks since I was in Chico last visiting my parents and family, but there's just something about that gravel driveway. It is the first thing I see when I get passed the walnut orchard leading to my parents house. It is the first sign of home. Where I grew up, where I was raised, where I share so many memories of childhood.


My parents have lived in their house since they were married only a few years, so it is the only place I knew as home. Yes, my mom may have remodeled it three times over the course of 40 years. But those walls and the love within them have never changed. There is just something about home that makes you comfortable and loved.


I love my parents house so much my wedding reception was there. In the backyard over looking the walnut orchard and surrounded by giant trees and landscaping of love. The house means more to me than dwelling place, it means love and happiness and memories that will never fade.


Nowadays when I return home, of course things have changed, but the love has not. When I grew up that gravel driveway was lined with large walnut trees and the orchard was filled with almonds. Now it is a walnut orchard all the way around. Once you pass the wood fence surrounding the 2 acres the house sits on, there were giant redwood trees opposite the house serving as a guard and barrier of such. Those redwoods have mostly died off now and newer, smaller trees are scattered across the landscape. There is one lone redwood tree at the end of driveway left now. It is a symbol to me of the change and evolution of my childhood home. My sister and I may not live there anymore, and the house may have changed a little inside, but the roots and foundation of that home will never change.



What reminds you of home?


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Monday, May 8, 2017

What is Milk?

Milk. Most of us drink it or use it as an ingredient on a regular basis. Whether it is pouring milk onto your cereal, topping off your coffee with creamer, digging into a big bowl of ice cream or just enjoying a tall glass of milk. Milk is a daily part of most people's diet.
Some people however, can't enjoy milk in the traditional form. Many are lactose intolerant or have a form of milk allergy causing them to search for milk substitutes.
Lucky for them, there are many on the market now a days. Almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk or whatever you can imagine is now available for those who choose. And these aren't just available in milk form; but cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream are all available in some kind of dairy milk substitute. But lately, this term 'milk' has been under attack.





What is milk?

Merriam-Webster defines milk as a 1) fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young as well as 2) a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow's milk. BOTH are acceptable in our dictionary.
The FDA however, describes milk as the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.
COWS...did you catch that? The FDA specifies cows. So, not only are they are saying seed or fruit milk isn't milk but are they are also saying goat or sheep milk isn't milk either?

Why does it matter?

Well, it matters to a number of dairy industry folks who are trying to make the FDA enforce their labeling requirements of milk. But why now? The FDA hasn't been enforcing this labeling law and thousands others, so why do they care now?


While 91% of Americans consume dairy milk, only 57% of consumers drink dairy milk by itself.
“In addition to half of Americans consuming non-dairy milk, research reveals that nearly all non-dairy milk drinkers also drink dairy milk, revealing that consumers are turning to non-dairy out of preference as opposed to necessity,” People like the taste of substitutes and they prefer it. Yet, they are still consuming dairy milk.
Personally, I buy cow milk. I used to buy almond milk for myself but once I had small children drinking milk, I switched back to cow milk. I didn't want the extra sweeteners and rich taste of almond milk for such young kids.


The problem that some see is that the USDA reported in 2011 that US milk sales were half of their 1980 levels. Some research reveals the global market for milk substitutes reached $5.8 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $10.9 billion by 2019. But, really let's compare that number versus cow milk. Dairy milk global value is still $336 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 and was projected to grow by 6 percent until 2019.


Are we really worried about a less than 2% market of milk substitutes. Honestly, I think the dairy folks have bigger fish to fry and other problems they should be tackling. In a world where we should be promoting and protecting agriculture as a whole, I don't like the idea of one sector of the industry attacking another. Milk is milk. Whether it comes from a cow, sheep, goat, almond, cashew, rice, whatever it is, people are going to call it what they call it.


Instead of pegging one sector against another, why can't we come together to celebrate each other and the progress that agriculture has made. I think it is pretty incredible that non-lactose drinkers have so many options. No more are the days where people have to live without ice cream or yogurt because they can't have an ingredient. That is what our society is all about. We adapt, we change, we find alternatives. So, does it really matter what we call it? Let's enjoy the product and thank the farmer who put it on our table for us to enjoy.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny







Friday, April 28, 2017

Green Almonds

There are always those trends that seem to pop up and certain people just shake their heads in disbelief over the following or popularity of the trend. Much like those new 'dirty jeans' that everyone seems in uproar about from Nordstrom. Yep, for those that haven't heard, you can buy a pair of jeans with dirt and grease stains on them for $425 from Nordstrom.


People in the working class community just shake their heads in disbelief that something we try so hard to clean after a hard days work, is now a trend. Well, much like the dirty jeans, when I first heard of green almonds I was caught a little off guard. People are paying a premium for what? To the average consumer, I am sure they would look at the price tag and the appearance and ask just what they were paying for. But for the high end foodie, celebrity or royal it may be something they look forward to all year.


So what exactly is a green almond?

Well, it is just what you would think, a green almond. An almond still in the green stage of development during early spring. The hull is soft and green while the inside is like a gelatin. These green almonds are consumed whole. Yep- hull, developing shell and meat in all.  This stage is about a four week window starting early to mid April. There is a second phase that can be available for about a four week window after that. This is when the kernel or meat of the almond is starting to firm up more and the hull is also harder. You wouldn't consume the hull in this stage.

What is all the hype about?

Green almonds are considered a delicacy that originated in the Mediterranean. No surprise, since the almond is a Mediterranean fruit. But there, people have been consuming this delicacy for decades. It is definitely a niche market product in America where you will have to dine at a fancy upscale East Coast restaurant, with the celebs or extreme foodies to find.

Halibut and pickled green almonds- PC: California Almonds
I would say it is an acquired taste. One that some members of my family do enjoy. They say it tastes like a cucumber and has the same texture as a grape.


Green almonds are a niche and a rare product to find on your supermarket shelves. Most who purchase, order direct from a processor who knows what they are doing with this delicate fruit. One specific grower seems to have figured out the market for them to sell green almonds. They hand pick the almonds and very carefully clean and pack them the same day to ship out to the customer. You wouldn't want to machine harvest such a delicate fruit and you want to make sure the tree still has fruit on it for harvest in the fall. We aren't talking large volume here, so hand picking for orders could be done fairly reasonable.


So there you have it. Green almonds in a nutshell. Well, actually green almonds before the nutshell. If you see yourself in a high end restaurant or dining with the queen during the next few weeks, be on the look out for green almonds. Now, you will be informed and aware of what you might eat. For the rest of us we can wait three more months for the finished product!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Last Adventure as Three

The last couple week's I have been a little MIA, especially when it comes to regular social media updates on the farm or the family. Well, we decided to go on one last adventure as three. In a mere 9 weeks, our next little baby H is set to arrive. Our summer will be filled with the new baby and the adventures of raising two, all happening 1 MONTH before almond harvest will begin. That's right, about the time hull split is scheduled to occur and spray usually needs to be applied, I will most likely be welcoming a new baby into the family and taking my farmer husband away from the farm.
Luckily, our family farm has plenty of family around that will be helping out so hopefully my farmer husband can take a few days to help me get used to life as a mom of two.
But anyways, before that chaos starts and before I feel so uncomfortably pregnant, we wanted to take one last adventure as three. When thinking of places to go, relax and explore it seems like the beach is always the first thing to come to our minds. We live just under 2 hours from Pismo Beach area, which is very popular for getting away. It is also the area we went to college, so we are pretty familiar with where to go and what to see.
But I do have to admit, as much as I love the beach, I am more of a mountain girl. I grew up 2 hours from a family mountain cabin and exploring the lake, creeks and trails was always much more exciting to me.
After some contemplation with the husband, we decided mountains would be much more relaxing and change of scenery for us. When discussing where to go, we both made a weird realization. We live 3 hours from Yosemite National Park and neither of us had ever been there. As children, we both had gone on cross country car trips to see Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Four Corners, etc. but we had never been to Yosemite.
That was it. We were going to explore our own backyard vacation hotspot. After some research, I discovered a great vacation rental company, Redwoods in Yosemite, where you can rent a private cabin for your family. The cabins are fully equipped for your vacation needs as they double as private cabins that individuals own and use as well. It was perfect for us. I made our breakfast every morning, packed a picnic lunch for the day and we made it back for dinner every night. We did indulge one night with a dinner out at nearby Tenaya Lodge.  It was a great out of park, not as crowded option for good food.
Staying by the south entrance of the park was perfect for us. It was near the small town of Wawona that isn't as crowded or touristy as the other areas of the park. We were able to go explore and hike around our cabin, walk down to a near by elementary school for playtime, and still be close to a market for last minute food items I forgot.

Our little almond farmer playing in the park
On Thursday, it rained most of the day. But we were able to take in some sights and explore Big Trees Lodge area in between the rain. There is a Pioneer Village just up the road where you can take a self guided walking tour of old buildings and history of the pioneer days of Yosemite. Our little man enjoyed the old farm equipment and knocking on all the doors to see if anyone was home in the cute little cabins.
Rainy day tour of Pioneer Village
The day before we were only about a 45 minute drive from Yosemite Valley and the massive Yosemite Falls. Driving into the Yosemite Valley the sights are incredible. The valley is covered with quaint meadows, trails and the most beautiful waterfalls. This is also the most attractive places to stay in Yosemite so the two big lodges are here and multiple campgrounds, making traffic and parking kind of a nightmare. But we spent a good amount of time exploring the trails, scenic areas and waterfalls.
I was glad we didn't stay here though, too many people for me. I was happy to make the short drive back to our cabin at the end of the day and relax in quiet. It was the best time to go though, the record amount of rain and snow we have received made the falls overflowing with water.

Yosemite Falls

Lower Falls
On our last day we packed up our suitcases, said goodbye to our cabin and made the drive out of the park and towards Mariposa.  This town has loads of history in gold mining and was fun to explore. They have a quaint downtown filled with boutique shops, antiques, alpaca wool store, and olive oil tasting. A few miles up the road there was also a Mariposa Museum filled with old mining memorabilia and artifacts. This was a great little pit stop for us on our way to Chico for Easter.


I would say our last adventure as three was a success. My farmer husband got his history fix, with plenty to learn and read. My little almond farmer got to explore, play in the snow and run all over new places. And as for me. I got to relax with my two boys and enjoy the beauty we have in our own backyard before the chaos of motherhood is about to double!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Life

Life can change in a blink of an eye. What is constant today, may be different tomorrow. Who we cherish and love, could be gone in a flash. In a world so fast paced and ever evolving as ours, you would think we would all be okay with this. But no. We aren't. And when change occurs, it shocks us. It rocks our boat. It alters our plans. But that is one thing I have learned over the years. We have no control over our plans.


There is a greater being that knows and understands our future far more than we do. We may have a path and a plan for what tomorrow should be, but tomorrow may bring something else. Life can change in a blink of an eye. There is something greater pushing us, challenging us, forcing us to take the other path.



The path we think we want, may not be the one we end up taking. Not by choice, but a greater pull. Life is full of unexpected pulls, changes and challenges. Just when you think you have life under control and you are headed down your path, you will make a sharp curve and end up somewhere else. We can't control life. As much as we want and try, it just can't happen.


We want our friends and family to be safe, healthy and happy. But sometimes the unexpected events happen and they are lost, gone forever. That evil word, cancer, is more and more common in daily conversations today. Tragic unexpected, unexplained accidents happen everyday. Know matter how religious you may be, evil can still come into your life. God is constantly changing our paths.


It may not seem like he has any reason for the tragedy he puts in your live, but there is a lesson to be learned. Something he wanted you to take away from it. He has a funny way of showing love sometimes. But don't give up hope. Life can change in a blink of an eye. What you may look at as tragedy today, could be hope and a new future tomorrow.


Love. Love each other. Love your enemy. Tell them you love them. Show them you love them. Don't be afraid to try something new. To step out of your box and be different. Life can change in a blink of an eye.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The time I met the Peterson Farm Bros

From Kansas farm boys to overnight internet sensations, I would say the Peterson Farm Brothers are leading agriculture advocates. When I found out that our California Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference was going to host these three famous Kansas boys, I was pretty excited to say the least. They literally are reaching the world with their agriculture advocacy work and getting people all over to talk about farming, and they didn't even mean to.
It all started on their Kansas family farm in May of 2012 when the oldest brother, Greg, had an idea for a farming parody song of the popular "I am sexy and I know it". Over the course of the next month, the boys would film their video "I am farming and I grow it" and at the end of the June they posted it on their personnel social media pages and sent it to family and friends.


They had hoped that maybe someday that video would get 50,000 views. Someday. But they honestly just wanted to make a fun video for family and friends. Well within two weeks, that video had been viewed on YouTube 5 million times!  Yep, 5 million times in 2 weeks! They had appeared on national news and people all over the world were talking about the Peterson Farm Brothers.
Now from farming, speaking at conferences, blogging, advocating and making videos these boys have their hands full. One still in college and the two oldest back on the farm, it isn't your usual farm family lifestyle. But they are so down to the earth and level headed individuals.


They were an inspiration to me. Not that I am going to start making music videos about almonds anytime soon, but their advocacy and outreach is an inspiration. They are just normal farm boys, similar to ones all around me. But they take advocacy and outreach to the next level. They draw people in with their witty and entertaining videos but then they keep you captivated by teaching you a little something about cows, pesticides and farming issues.


I felt blessed to have the opportunity to sit across the table from them at breakfast and listen to their story. They are still so level headed and honest people. They may have crazy speaking engagement schedules and film music videos on their farm, but they are just three Kansas boys from a farming family who want to highlight the positives of what farmers and ranchers do everyday.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

California Agriculture Day

Agriculture is a vital part to our lives. Not just to the farmers who are growing our food, but for the consumers who enjoy the fruits of our labor. All too often, consumers go to the grocery store and expect what they want to be on the shelves. If it isn't, they get upset and ask the grocery clerk to check the back. Well, how often does the consumer connect the dots from the grocery store to the farmer. Not enough.


This week as we celebrate Agriculture, let's help consumers connect the dots. Today is California Agriculture Day and a great day to celebrate agriculture.


This week, I had the privilege of volunteering at our local Farm Day in the City sponsored by our local Farm Bureau. Over 4,000 children from 3rd and 4th grade from all over the county come to the fairgrounds over two days to learn about agriculture, food and farming. It is an event that our local Farm Bureau has been organizing for over 30 years. Similar events take place all over the state and nation and it is a great way to connect children to the food they eat. Kids get an opportunity to milk a cow, learn about irrigation, watch a cattle roping, ride on tractors and realize the importance agriculture plays in their everyday lives.


All too often we drink that glass of milk and never think about the cow, dairyman or trucker that brought it to the store before you bought it. Not to mention the farmer who grew the grain and processor who made it into food for the cow to eat. There are so many steps involved to get our food to the store, in our fridge and on the table that we lose track of how it got there and the people involved in doing just that.
Organizations like Ag in the Classroom are doing a great job at creating and distributing agriculture curriculum to those that need it. Through lesson plans, activity sheets, books, events, and grants they are able to reach a broader audience than your average farmer.

Today, is also Ag at the Capital Day where agriculture organizations gather at the California capital steps in Sacramento to showcase agriculture and farming to not only our state legislature but children and public wanting to learn about food and where it comes from.


These are great examples of ways farmers and agriculture organizations are trying to inform and educate children and the average consumer. Today and this week is really about education and the opportunity to showcase the abundance that California is able to produce with less and less.


California is the leading agriculture state in the nation, growing far more than any other state. We grow more than 400 different crops, a majority of which are specialty crops that are unique and not grown in very many other places.


California is the sole US producer, producing 99% or more, of almonds, artichokes, pistachios, prunes, raisins, pomegranates, cling peaches, sweet rice, walnuts, dates, figs, clover seed and kiwis. California also produces nearly half of fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States. I'd say that is a state worth celebrating!




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny